Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Raucous Beginnings

My early companions, in all their cocky splendour as they convene in the old maple, greet the morning light, exchange bawdy jokes and owl taunting tales, plot byzantine shenanigans for the day and puckishly tug me into a degree of consciousness which is questionnable B.C. (before coffee). This morning, they were even more garrulous than they were yesterday, and they are definitely looking forward to spring.

I've never been able to work up any enthusiasm for the expression "a murder of crows" (any more than I can for the expression "an unkindness of ravens"), so this assemblage is a flock, but what a jocular bunch of trickster birds they are at the crack of dawn.

If crow is the archetypal trickster character in ancient tales, it is for very good reasons, and whenever I see a confabulation of these black birds dancing about in the old corner maple, the image which always comes to mind is one of a band of merry pranksters - no relation to Ken Kesey and his lightly tripping travelling companions though.

I've often thought that the right expression for my friends would be "a comedy of crows" or a "prankful of crows", and on a fine clear blue morning such as this, either expression will do nicely. There are many other wonderful words for prank which would also suit: antic, caper, caprice, escapade, fancy, fool, frivolity, frolic, gag, gambol, high jinks, horseplay (crowplay), lark, levity, lightness, monkeyshines (crowshines), rollick, rowdiness, shenanigans, skylark, spoof, tomfoolery, trick, whim.

A caper of crows perhaps, a frolic of crows, a rollick of crows, a rowdy of crows or a caprice of crows?


Steve Emery said...

I like "Rowdy of Crows" very much. Frolic and Caper seem too light for me, maybe a little too high pitched or giddy for crows? To me they are heavyweight comics.
I recall once watching a family cross a well manicured lawn at our office complex. It was July, and they were evenly spaced, side-by-side, in a line, like army privates walking along to pick up cigarette butts. What they were actually doing was an organized herding of the large grasshoppers all to one end of the lawn where concentrated carnage took place. They say the Corvids have the largest brains of any birds. One crow, in a lengthy study, was observed every fourteen days, like clockwork, to fly miles to join her old family flock, where she spent the day with her mother.
Since growing up with them, calling to each other up the river across the road from our house, audible but not visible in the morning fog, I have loved them. I talk to them when I see them fly over.

Rowan said...

I love crows too, one of the most marvellous sights and sounds I know is that of huge flocks of crows either going to roost on a late winter afternoon or streaming out of their roost at first light on a winter morning. Marvellous birds. Don't know whether you have the term 'a crow's parliament'? That typifies them to me - an ancient, wise race of birds. Pity our UK parliament isn't more like them!

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether this is a scientific fact or just my imagination, but it seems to me that crows have different accents in different parts of the country. When I go to a different State and hear a crow it seems to be a distinctive "caw" from what I am use to. Maybe it's just the "trickster" aspect of crows greeting an outsider.

Endment said...

Crows are some of the first visitors here each morning. Their voices certainally are the first to be heard :) They seldom come to the feeders - simply come in as if to wake the community and the house, check out the clearing and the woods - then be on their way. You have caught their character in this post - thanks for the smiles today