Our Friends, the Crows. ~ Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg, Ph.D.

Via elephant journal
on Apr 25, 2012
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Richard Carter

Often when I meditate, I get creative ideas. Back in the day I would stop the process and grab paper and pen to jot the ideas down.

I have acquired some discipline since then, and I use a meditation timer to sound a gentle gong at five-minute intervals and a trio of louder tones at the end so that I don’t peek at the time. I’ve found that if the idea is a good one, it will follow me out of the session and into action afterwards.

Recently while meditating, I saw myself drawing a crow, with a great new drawing app I just began fooling around with, and writing an article that would flow from that drawing. I finished my meditation and ran a lot of errands. Later, when I had returned home I sat down with my iPhone and began drawing crows as I consulted my many bird books. I kept starting over, but at last I finished one that, while not totally crow-like, might pass for a crow.

I began letting the words flow, no real plan, just writing about crows. I did a little research. A few crows hung out on the roofline whose shadows I saw on the lawn out back but not their full selves. The next day I saw them striding around, calling their fellows, flying from ground to tree to tree to tree and gone from earshot.

I wrote a post on crows that I really liked for my blog and lost it making an erroneous keystroke. I had to recreate it and that next version came out well enough. In rewriting it, I copied out the Buddha’s quote with which I will end this article.

Crow by: S. Hochberg

Doing so slowly, rather than cutting and pasting as I’d tried to do but failed, losing the whole thing, enriched my spirit as the words came into my being more fully.

When I did some research, I learned that crows were here before people were. Long before our town was established, before the road was paved, and many, many moons before Revolutionary war general John Sullivan drove the Iroquois from this plateau and up into Ontario.

Crows are bright, not unlike the shiny things that attract them. They possess an intellectual curiosity foreign to many humans.

I wrote in my blog on crows:

They stride like men with hands clasped behind their backs when I cast stale bread out back, a lookout peering at me from perch up high in pine or elm, then calling to the crew of crows who all descend.

I tore up and threw stale bread into the field behind the house yesterday. My neighbor was on his deck cooking meat on his barbecue. “Too bad you don’t eat meat,” he called, “We found a great butcher up here.” I just smiled back and said I was throwing out bread for the crows.

“I thought we didn’t like crows,” he said.

“We like crows,” I replied.

Our friends, corvis brachyrhinos, can live for 20 years or even longer. On a website by the apt name of Jcrows.com I read about Tata, a crow who as a fledgling was injured and could not fly, and who reportedly was taken in by a family on Long Island but when they became too old to care for him, eventually given to someone else. Although it cannot be confirmed, it was said that Tata died at 59 years of age. The site contains much useful crow lore and legend, plus lots of facts. Well worth the visit to enrich one’s corvis consciousness.

Despite the kindness humans showed Tata, I felt a lump in my throat as I thought how cruelly man treats most of our animal brethren, barbecues included.

When I wrote my recent crow blog, I ended with these quotes from the Buddha:

Not one or two but all the beings – men, women, animals, birds, trees, rocks. All the beings in the world. One should create such a determination that ‘I will lead them all into nirvana.’


Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.

(with references to my blog on crows at www.Naturalworldnepa.blogspot.com )


Edited by Hayley Samuelson.


 Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan, New York slogging through life as we all do. I am vegan, happily married, the proud mother of one and grandmother of four, owned by a fine black cat named Daisy. I began my professional life in my forties. I bring a lot of varied life experience to my current professional practice. I studied and practiced TM in my 20s, and in 2011 I returned to my practice. I garden, cook, write, collect antique marbles, paint and draw a little, and generally love life. I have augmented my practice with the use of Tibetan bowls, guided imagery, and other contemplative interventions.


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11 Responses to “Our Friends, the Crows. ~ Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg, Ph.D.”

  1. Joan Hardin says:

    Peacefully wonder-ful:
    Taking in Shielagh's article, I felt at peace & full of wonder for beings like crows. A lovely, evocative drawing too.

  2. Thank you for this. I've always had a special affinity for, and connection, to crows. They often appear in special ways, unexpectedly in my life.

    And I think that they are just awesome. 🙂

  3. Shielagh says:

    Thanks for your comment, Joan. Thanks for letting me know you liked this.

  4. Shielagh says:

    Thanks, Michael! I am hearing from friends that they too, like yourself, like crows, and that makes me happy.

  5. lemmefineout says:

    Really beautiful Shielagh – poetic and peaceful – I love the image of the man walking with his hands clasped behind his back!

  6. Shielagh says:

    Thanks for your encouragement, Pat! I’m really enjoying my creative side.

  7. I've had a love for crows for quite a while now and the feeling is mutual I've found. They are splendid and give wonderful messages for those who stop to listen! Thanks for this post, Shielagh.

  8. Steve Bates says:

    Loved to read that you, too, feed crows. I have a photo of me feeding crows outside of Agra, India, when I was a kid in the late 1950s. I continue to feed them scraps at our current lake-side home. Though I'm not a "bird person", there is something fascinating about watching the behavior of these intelligent crows; they are not greedy like sea gulls, but rather call and patiently wait for their "partner" and other family members, before swooping down to feed on the morsels. Of course, there is always one standing watch way up on a branch, calling loudly when one of our two cats comes too close. The crows and cats have now worked out a relationship whereby they can be closer to each other, with just a bit of trust and mutual respect there. Your drawing was wonderful. Keep up the writing and art work.

  9. Shielagh says:

    Thanks so much, Steve. I loved reading about your crows and cats and your other observations. Bring your photo to NYC later this week if you can. I'd love to see it! Thanks for your encouragement with my art and writing.

  10. Shielagh says:

    Thank you so much, Theresa. I'd love to hear their messages sometime.

  11. Shielagh says:

    Thanks, Pat for always sending me a good vibe and empowering ideas!