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novelist, researcher, photographer


Globe & Mail response on the intelligence of crows

Posted on July 5, 2016 at 8:50 AM

Here's a link to the Globe and Mail article in Facts and Arguments, June 2016:

And here's my response, published in Letters to the Editor, Globe & Mail, July 4, 2016


Congratulations to Paul Grant for ‘Crows Never Forget a Face’ in ‘Facts and Arguments’ [June 26]: a well-written and humorous piece.


Never having been assaulted by a crow or crows, I’m probably not one to talk. But as a close observer of them for many years, and a consumer of all information (from print to docs to webinars) I can find about them, I would like to say a few words in their defence.


It seems that both crow-hating and crow-loving spring from the same source: the crows’ intelligence. If it weren’t for how smart they are, they wouldn’t vex us so much.


Crows have learned to remember faces; in their world, vigilance means survival.They, like other birds, are an evolutionary product of 150 million years (give or take), with a direct DNA connection to the dinosaurs. Ever since we (homo sapiens) came along a mere 200,000 years ago (give or take), crows have had to defend their space and safety to be able to bring up their young. You’ve got to admire that.


I find crows—their history and behaviour—so interesting that I recently wrote a novel that uses a crow as a character. The role of the bird in ‘The Company of Crows’ is both realistic and metaphorical, its unfamiliar perspective casting new light on the actions (and spiritually inferior aspects) of the human characters.


Some of us leave food out for them. They remember our faces, as well. I suggest Paul Grant makes peace with his crows. Can’t we all just…get along?


Karen Molson

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