6 Reasons Why Crows Make Great Therapists

Marvin Close Up Dec 2018

1. Crows Are a Gateway Bird

The Look

Crows are often the only obvious representative of the natural world that a busy urbanite might see in a day. Many more wild things live among us, of course — but crows are so “in your face” that they’re hard to overlook, no matter how distracted you are. Once they’ve caught your eye, you can’t help but start to notice the rest of the quieter members of the urban nature gang… sparrows, chickadees, coyotes, eagles, hawks, bushtits, raccoons, ravens, squirrels, flickers, hummingbirds … and the precious scraps of urban greenery in which they thrive.

2. Crow as Mirror

Crows have evolved through millennia along an entirely separate path from humans.

And yet, and yet … here we find ourselves, crows and people, living strangely parallel urban lives.


We all —crows and humans — have to deploy every bit of our creativity and hard work to get by in the urban jungle. We take comfort in our family groups, and we commute in tandem—  the nightly river of roost-bound crows soaring raucously over their earthbound fellow travellers, the latter inching their way homeward though traffic.

Still Creek Roost sunset

While I love and admire crows, I don’t usually think of them as my “spirit animal” or anything particularly mystical.

And yet, sometimes, when I look at Mavis …


3. Crows Really Don’t Care What You Think

Crows have a rather enviable devil-may-care attitude.

Crow's Eye Close Up

Their gaze is firmly outward, with little or no thought wasted on what others think of them.  They know that their crow-ness is sufficient.

I try to be more like them in that regard, … although I don’t think I don’t think I’m quite ready to start digging up  my neighbours’ lawns just yet.

Mr Pants Beard

For further reading on crow confidence: Red Hot Fall Fashion Tips

4. Crow Puzzles

As I get older I wonder if I should start doing Sudoku or crosswords to keep my mind sharp.


I haven’t yet,  but I find that crow watching is a pretty good substitute. I see a crow doing something rather inexplicable. I wonder about it, read a book or an article about crows, I watch some more, and then — aha! — the puzzle pieces suddenly fit into place.  Then I have to try and keep that bit of information stored in my brain as I add more clues to a growing picture. It’s like being a crow P.I.

Take, for instance, the mystery of the barking crow …

See my previous blog post A Puzzlement of Crows for just how much of my brain this sort of thing occupies at any one time.

Whitewing Dec 2018

Whitewing here has a perennially wonky wing feather which helps me pick her out from the crowd.

5. Crows For Kids

We worry that our kids spend too much time inside, screen-mesmerized (much like the rest of us) and rarely keen to get outside and get involved with nature. They’re able to identify far more corporate logos than birds or plants.

From experiences with my own children when they were younger, the most effective way to get them interested in doing something is to create a story around it.

My son was reluctant to come on walks until we found Dragon Alley.  A street near our house is lined with massive trees, and the trunks are all covered in various kinds of thick moss. Once we “discovered” that this was were the local dragons came to rub off their old scales, walking was a delight.

dragon scales

I wish I’d started noticing crows when my children were little. The tales we could have spun! The characters we could have followed!  They loved books with animals in them, but most of them were not indigenous to East Vancouver. They read about tigers and badgers and hedgehogs in brambly hedges, none of which they were ever likely to actually find on their own adventures. It would have been fun to introduce them to some real life local crow characters.

Well I guess it’s never too late as I do that now, even though the kids are now in their twenties …

Slocan Street Crow Dec 2018

6. Crow Therapy is Egalitarian

Twig Carrying Crow

Just about anyone in a crow-populated city can take advantage of crow therapy. You don’t even need to get up close and personal — you can read their messages of beauty and nature from a distance in the calligraphy they write against the sky.

We simply need to stop for a moment to look up and try to interpret it.


In fact, crow therapy is SO egalitarian that it doesn’t even need to involve crows.

If it’s wondering what the starlings are up to today, or how the light will hit the leaves on your favourite tree this morning, or which dragons left scales in Dragon Alley overnight — whatever gives you a thrill of anticipation as your step outside — that’s Crow Therapy.

Wild City

See also: Crow Therapy




10 thoughts on “6 Reasons Why Crows Make Great Therapists

  1. I spend quite a lot of time watching crows in my garden. They find crusts of bread that I think are put out for the chickens a couple of houses away, and dunk it in our bird bath to soften it. Timimg is of the essence, no one likes soggy bread, and when it’s deemed just right out it gets scooped to drain on the edge. Some is consumed including breakaway bits in the water and some is buried under a nearby tree for a later snack. Also discovered in the garden are empty chicken egg shells. My husband was doubtful when I gave him my crow therory and then we were given ringside seats to a crow landing with it’s beak very stretched to hold a chicken egg. Another crow arrived and they circled the egg heads held high as if to say “egg, what egg?!” After a bit of posturing it was pecked open and consumed with the second crow finishing the left overs. Then it was time to scour the limestone wall for tasty spider afters. What a treat!
    I enjoy your writings and photos very much and look forward to ongoing crow adventures.
    Take care
    Lorraine Meeks (Perth Western Australia)

  2. Incredible! Crows can “bark” differently…each has their own…I still continue to learn from and in awe of crows, ravens, magpies, eagles, etc.! I love your work…I am glad I happened to stumble into your site tonight!

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  7. I am rereading your crow therapy article. I have a family of crows I have been feeding for several years now. It fluctuates between 6 and 8 family members. They know when I am outside in the neighborhood and definitely alert the others who might not be in close vicinity and then they chat with me. I feed birds and have bird houses but the crows are so special to me. They have a schedule and every morning at 8:30 they arrive looking for their peanuts, dog food that I have soaked, some left overs which I put on a high roofed fly thru feeder so the gulls won’t get it. Took the crows a bit to figure out just how to land but they have it down now. They are definitely my therapy. I do a clucking sound and they answer me back. Good for the soul and definitely a joy during these difficult times with Covid and all. I found it interesting that when I vacationed in Northern Maine the crows would land right on the deck railing of my time share and get the peanuts. They didn’t care that I was sitting only a few feet away. The crows here in the city are still very timid and wait until I am either in the house or some distance away before they will come for their treats. I know t hey know me but they are still incredibly wary. Love your pictures and writings. Thank you.

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