Letter to the editor: Gathering crows speak to Middlebury author

Editor’s note: When seeing a huge flock of crows off Seminary Street Extension in Middlebury recently, this correspondent was reminded of something he wrote a decade ago.

I wish I knew more languages, and one of the languages I’d like most to learn is crow. Not Crow Indian, but the language used by the troupe of hundreds of crows who arrive in Middlebury en masse every spring — quite the sight if you happen to be outdoors when they arrive. After lengthy discussion, they appear to divide the town between different groups, and the spring crowtown meeting breaks up. In the fall, they regroup and have another long discussion, which I suspect has to do with which ones will stay behind and keep an eye on things through the winter.

Today, the last day in March, a lone crow flew east to west overhead, from the outskirts of Middlebury toward the center, calling in a way that made me think of the French and Spanish rolling their r’s — not a simple caw, but a distinctive call I’d never heard before. He or she would say it four times, all the while flying toward where the sun would set, then after a pause would say it four more times, then four again. No other crows in sight and possibly none within hearing range. Maybe it knew something about the snowstorm due to arrive with April.

A word of my own: a loud gathering of crows is a caw-cuss.

Ed Barna


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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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