The Calligraphy of Crows

This is an excellent time of year for studying crow calligraphy.

Their inky brush strokes are never more distinct than when scrawled across the blank parchment of a pale grey Vancouver winter sky.

The bulletin can be simple — “yup, it’s grey and boring down there in the human world, but every day is an adventure for us crows!”


Often though, the fleeting sight of a crow in an urban setting seems like a cypher — a key to de-coding a much bigger message.

As we dash around in the city it’s sometimes possible to forget that nature even exists.

Even if I try my hardest to feel connected, so many things can seem to stand in the way; the constant metropolitan hum-m-m of sound; getting from A to B;  worrying about paying bills, meeting deadlines, not getting run over; the latest news …

I know there’s another storyline beyond it all — one that I really need to pay more attention to.

I know I’d feel better if I could tune into it, but can’t for life of me quite remember how it all fits together.

It’s like a neglected language.

One I’ve never been fluent in.

I’m sure I once knew how to hold a rudimentary conversation, but now the grammar eludes me.


Then, one random day, I look up and see four crows rolling and tumbling in the sky and then snapping  back into a purposeful formation.

For reasons I can’t understand it brings to mind just one key bit of the syntax.

Like stumbling across part of a cypher to that complicated secret message — never quite enough information to crack it entirely, but offering a glimpse.

Everything does not suddenly make sense — but I am at least reminded that the other language exists.

I still don’t see the answers, but there’s a certain joy now in the not knowing.

I hope to spend more time in 2023 paying attention to, and working with, crow calligraphy.



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10 thoughts on “The Calligraphy of Crows

  1. I live in crowland. We look at the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There’s a nightly exhibition of this calligraphy, a standard feature of happy hour. I love your seizing of this. 17 paragraphs. 4 more than Stevens on blackbirds. Lovely.

  2. I got here via Penny (Walking Woman) and am very glad she shared your site. These are wonderful! I’ve admired crows (and ravens!) for many years. Have you heard of asemic writing? It’s a little like seeing calligraphy in nature, something I have often thought of when I see strands of seaweed on a beach or lichen patterns on wood, etc.

  3. Pingback: Learning The Crowphabet | The Urban Nature Enthusiast

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