I Saw the Crows Flying

By Barbara Janelle M.A.

First Published Species Link, Issue 27/28, Summer/Autumn, 1997

The creatures and plants and rocks and people that come into our awareness bring gifts, messages and support. Birds are my friends and for more than twenty years, their presence or their feathers have signalled support and guidance to me.

Hawks always accompanied my horse, Sam, and me on our rides. They would rise from the grass near his feet, land on or rise from the trees we passed, or fly parallel with us as we galloped along the edges of fields. When I travel to give or attend workshops, I usually see a hawk along the way. They speak to me of high ideals, overview, pattern and order.

Crows bring many gifts, as well. They often indicate my mother’s presence and come when I need to remember her kindness and generosity. They let me know that I am loved and guided. A crow will fly across the road immediately in front of my car, or sit on a telephone pole at an intersection where I am stopped at a traffic light. They fly above my house or walk in the park across the street when I am writing.

Crows represent many things to me and the list continues to grow. They are communicators as am I and one of their skills in this was brought to my attention again this summer in Maine.


I saw the crows flying

circling high at the north end of the pond.

I asked, “What are you doing?”

The one replied, “Watch us.

Our flight is specific.

We rise and fall at certain places

And with our call, always at a particular place,

We tell the world that something is there.

We locate it without flight pattern and with our calls–

We are mapping!

We map what is visible to the eye

And we show the wind currents too.

We tell of the hunters–

osprey and the owl.

Sometimes we sing for joy

And the wind

and the forms of earth

Take our voices and make them

Mighty and strange,

or whispered

and distant.

We sing,

We shout

We map

And fly the wind.

It is good

to be alive!”

Two years ago, my friend Carol Lang and I visited the Grand Canyon. It was so big that we were overcome by its immensity until the crows caught our attention. They invited us to follow them with our binoculars. They showed us ledges and crevices we’d missed, and colors and plants that our eyes had skipped over. Their flight gave us a scale and a felt-sense of distance within this world of walls.

Everywhere we stopped or walked along the South Rim, the crows defined and delineated the canyon for us. Carol and I called them the tour guides of the Grand Canyon. I had forgotten about their penchant for showing the world to others until the pair on Stephen’s Pond in Maine reminded me that amid the many roles they play, crows are cartographers: mappers and describers of the earth!

The Crows Woke Me

By Barbara Janelle M.A.

First Published Species Link, Issue 17, October 1994

Crows, we are.We bring the dayWith noise–a proper greetingTo the life activitySo strong in day light!Wake up! Taste the day!Feel Joy–And rush to meetThe gifts that await you!