In Broad Daylight

I saw a crow do something disgusting the other day.  Perhaps it’s natural and I just didn’t know that it’s perfectly normal behaviour for a crow.  I was walking toward the main square when I saw the familiar blue-blackness up ahead.  Raven or crow? I wondered.  There are differences.  It always surprises me how big they are close up.  Substantial.  Their stance, sort of proud as they strut. 

I noticed it foraging at the foot of a tree then lift up its head.  Something was moving in its mouth.  That’s a mighty big worm, I thought.  What had it captured?  Surely, it’s not…?  It can’t be.  It was.  A tiny bird.  Squirming.  Held fast.  Far from escape.  A little wagtail.  I could see it.  The tail.  Wagging in the crow’s beak.  I felt terrible.  I love those little birds.  Oh, how it wriggled.  But the crow was an expert at bird-napping.  You could tell.  Though wagtail was certainly not napping.  It was lunch and it knew it.  I, hungry, moments ago ruminating over all the ways I could murder a cinnamon bun, instantly lost my appetite. 

Crow gave me side-eye, then hopped-skipped-flew onto the perch of a nearby café, before pecking at its fresh catch.  Turns out crows are cannibals.  Perhaps all birds are and I know nothing.  Predators are fascinating.  I skipped lunch that day.

Now I understand
why they call it a murder.
Rest in peace, wagtail. 

© N Nazir 2022

*this is absolutely true. It’s taken me a while to get the image out of my head so God knows why I’ve gone and shared it with you all. It’s all I could think of to write for this prompt.

Written for dVerse Poetry Prompt night hosted by Ingrid, who challenges us to write a corvid poem, that is, a poem related to a bird from the corvidae family. These include ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, choughs, magpies and crows.

*Here’s an erasure poem I did last year that also fits the prompt. Apologies for the poor quality photo. Text taken from The First Man by Albert Camus.

Erasure Poem #39, ink on paper, © N Nazir 2021

Ravens brood
and obsess
over dark things
filing away
the tragedies
of the past.

*In other news, thank you to Whispers and Echoes for publishing my poem There is Comfort Here. This is the last of the three I mentioned before and was originally written for NaPoWriMo last month. If you wish, you can read it here.

45 thoughts on “In Broad Daylight

  1. I remember becoming upset to find out Orca Whales are actually from the dolphin family and they will eat other dolphins – especially preferring to eat the young! And they torture (play) with their food like a cat with a bird before ripping it to shreds to devour it! (shudder)

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  2. sanaarizvi

    Oh my heart this is incredibly hard-hitting and poignant, Sunra! Yes, I can imagine how disturbing it must have been. It takes a lot of courage to write and share it with the rest.
    Congratulations on your poem “There is comfort here,” being published in Whispers and Echoes. Beautiful work done! ❤️❤️

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  3. I didn’t know crows did this either! I do wonder, though, if it makes sense to apply our own moral framework to the other creatures in this world – especially when it is so often questionable!

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  4. Well written and well done! But I feel I must defend the crow. I guess we should be a murder of humans too since we kill to eat. I think you said you’re a vegetarian but I am not and many people aren’t. I have heard that hens will eat other hens but haven’t witnessed it. I am not sure that a crow eating a wagtail is cannibalism. They’re quite separate species although they’re both birds. Is a shark eating a fish a cannibal? I would hate to have seen what you saw and it will haunt me. But I tell myself, just as when the wedege tailed eagles took all my parents’ geese during the drought, that everyone must eat. If I judge the animal for hunting then I must give it a supermarket. We humans are also odd. We watch birds eat worms and think nothing of it. Probably even a mouse and you or I may not have cringed. But a cute little bird?? No way!

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    1. Mmmmm, very interesting, Worms! First of all, thank you for your kind comment 😊 Yes I am veggie but I don’t mind other people eating meat and I don’t judge it. I do think it would help the planet if less people did but that’s by the by. I think a shark eating a fish is cannibalism and it happens a lot in many animal groups, and I totally get it. I think a crow eating a wagtail is too as I don’t believe they are all that different as species. But I understand the need to eat and that animals spend a large part of their day thinking mostly about feeding and survival. I would have cringed if it were a mouse too. But the fact that it was a cute little bird did disturb me! 😂 But because I’m fond of wagtails (also crows). I don’t judge an animal for hunting, how can I? It’s inherent instinct. I marvel at its ingenuity with a horrid fascination. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me! And for giving me food for thought 💖 😊

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      1. I agree with you on less meat being consumed being better for the planet. And our family is working to that end. We buy responsibly farmed lamb from a local farmer and responsibly farmed pork from a local market direct from the farmer (who isn’t quite as local). We have vegetarian about 3 nights a week. We also drive electric cars and have house and garage well covered with solar panels. I’m glad you accept the crow in its cannibalism. I saw an eagle plucking the feathers from a cockatoo it had clearly caught. I didn’t see the killing so it wasn’t as disturbing. But yes… it would be extremely disturbing to watch.

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      2. I think all your choices in ethical living are great, Worms. I totally support it. I’d drive electric too if I drove. I also understand that not all people are able to make ethical choices in how they eat/live because of cost, opportunity, etc. How lovely it would be if we all had an allotted piece of land to grow our own vegetables/herbs, for instance. Doesn’t so much just come down to cost and ease in the end?

        Also, I can imagine nature is truly wild where you are, and wonderfully so.

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    1. Good question, K.Hartless. I’d say it does reflect on us somewhat. Urban sprawl means animals would adapt to survive however they need to. But predators are also opportunists so it depends, I guess? Now you’ve made me puzzle it even more! 🙂

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  5. I didn’t know that about crow either! It’s not as if I didn’t really expect it because nature is a beautiful and fair as it is cruel but I definitely didn’t know that. Thanks for sharing! Love how you write!!

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  6. Our brains like to sanitize nature–but it has its own ways. I love my crows and I love my jays, just like I love to pet the neighbor’s cat even though all of them eat the small ones routinely whenever they get lucky enough. Your piece here reminds me of how dislocated we can be by our human hearts, and I think that taken all ways, that’s probably a good thing. I would rather not lose my ability to mourn the cost of the things I admire. Your erasure poem is also excellent.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Joy ❤️ You are so right and I completely agree. Nature is wild as it should be but we are all sentient beings. Appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me 🌟💖


  7. The circle of life is as cruel as it is beautiful. We as humans have trouble separating from our base instinct. Surely the crow as quick-witted as they can be is only doing what is necessary to survive.

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