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I, Crow: a bird’s eye view of hazing


“The garrulous Crow followed with flapping wings, wanting to know everything...”

— Ovid, “Metamorphoses” Book II: 531-565

I am a crow, but don’t let that fool you, I’m really not a bad guy.

I’ve gotten a bad rap since antiquity, when the greek god Apollo supposedly turned my feathers from white to black. I quite liked the new color, but the ancient Greeks were a bit prejudiced, given their taste in tunics. (I’ve always been a bit of a Johnny Cash fan myself.)

Then, of course, there was that awful poem by the otherwise talented Edgar Allan Poe. Why he chose a raven to come gently tapping, tapping at his chamber door is beyond me. There were rumors, of course, about his alcoholism and mental illness and all that, but personally I just think the poor chap was a little groggy after a late afternoon nap and a bit out of sorts.

He probably had gotten some bird droppings on his shoulder at one point and mistook that for malice. It happens, I understand, but there’s not need to take it out on a whole genus.

Then there was Alfred Hitchcock with his farce “The Birds.”

Can someone please tell me, why, when there are all sorts of birds involved in that film, including the saintly sparrows, all anyone seems to remember are the crows? Tell me, how is that fair? Hitchcock was a brilliant director — I mean, have you ever seen “Rear Window”? — but no friend to women and obviously no friend to the birds.

And don’t even get me started on the 1994 film “The Crow,” directed by Alex Proyas and starring Bruce Lee’s late son Brandon.

Is it my fault somebody replaced a blank in one of the prop guns with a bullet? Is it? Just because people call a flock of crows a “murder” of crows does not a murderer make. I’m sorry. Brandon was a great talent and we were all saddened by his loss but it had nothing to do with the crow!

But I digress.

If you do any research into my species, you’ll find that we are a highly intelligent lot. In fact, some people even say we’re as smart as the apes! What do you think about that?

In fact, there are some crows in New Zealand who researchers have found can complete complex tasks to retrieve and make tools to find food.

Pretty cool, right? And they have great accents.

So now, good people of Watertown, I hear you want to haze us. Every year we go through the same thing. It’s especially insulting around the holiday season. We never made it on the short list for the 12 days of Christmas with the fat and happy turtle doves and their pleasing cooing. Sorry, we tell it like it is, we’re crows, what can I say?

But to shoot fireworks at us when everybody else is cozy and inside? That’s just adding insult to injury.

Oh well, we can take it, we’ve made it this far. And fireworks can be quite festive.

Merry Christmas, Watertown.

Daniel Flatley is a staff writer covering Jefferson County government and politics for the Watertown Daily Times. He writes a column once a week for the local section of the paper. He can be reached at

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