The Way of the Crow



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Spirit seemed to be capable of distinguishing between colours and sizes, and to a lesser extent shapes, because he responded differently to variations in these things. He was alarmed if I wore clothing that was new or unfamilair to him. My theory is that he was alarmed by colours or combinations of vivid colours he hadn't seen before. For example, if I suddenly appeared in a bright yellow shirt, he was apt to be very defensive. To a certain extent, colours seemed more important than shapes in distinguishing things in his world. Of course, the size of objects was also important, because, as you might imagine, large objects tended to scare him, although he was sometimes able to adjust to their presence in his environment.

One evening I approached Spirit wearing a red, blue, and white checkered shirt. As I hadn't worn this shirt before in his company, he became quite alarmed and fled from me. I used my voice, but it wasn't enough to quell his fear. I was disappointed. My ego was shattered, and my pride was throughly deflated! I felt that Spirit was identifying me by my clothing, rather than something more concrete, like the shape of my nose, or the sound of my voice. I suddenly felt that I didn't understand how crows identified friends or familiar objects. I tried to be open-minded about the whole thing, and attributed my disappointment to cross-species misunderstanding. I liked that -- it sounded scientific. If colour was the factor crows used to identify friends or familiar things, there was nothing I could do about it. I might as well accept it as a fact of crow consciousness.

However, I wasn't quite content with this explanation. I knew something was missing, and that there was a factor I had overlooked. I pondered Spirit's reaction to my brightly coloured clothing. Suddenly, the whole truth of the matter occurred to me, and the truth was somewhat opposite to my initial realization. To Spirit I was certainly much more than a red-checkered shirt, or, whatever else I was wearing! In looking for complicated answers, I overlooked the obvious -- the brightly coloured shirt I wore on that occasion was totally foreign to Spirit, and something to be feared. He recognized me, but this bright red "thing" was something else. The fact that I was wearing it, didn't make it any less frightening to him. The red shirt was a barrier between myself and Spirit. The shirt was like a fox between rabbits, preventing normal everyday interaction between friends.

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