I’m devilishly handsome


I’m devilishly handsome. I like that word ‘devilishly’. It suits me. We corvids (crows, if you wish) don’t believe in gods or devils, obviously. Though we do have a healthy respect for what you humans call ‘nature’. You used to have that respect, too, once. But you’ve forgotten most of what you ever knew.

You can call me Raxia Bluefeather. It’s not my name, but it’ll do. As has been explained before, the names of rooks is very important to us and far too complex for your minds. Not too complex, perhaps – that’s not fair. But it would be alien to you. Incomprehensible. I’ll leave it there.

I’m currently in what you call Fota Island in Cork. We have a different name for this place, which relates to the shape of the point of land on the island (which isn’t really an island) closest to the setting sun (west, to you) and its resemblance to a duck’s beak. It’s a pleasant spot I must say, and food and company are abundant. And trees, for nesting and roosting. I sleep most nights high in the evergreen oak (as you call it), by the big house. There is something intangibly comforting in the evergreens, I find.

The rookery is quiet. Nesting is over for now, though herself and I are thinking of a second brood. We’ll know what nature will be doing when the days get shorter soon. We know what will happen about six of your weeks in advance and that’s enough time for us to hatch and fledge.

Our two younglings have done well and are becoming independent. Young Foxharrier, our male, is spending a lot of time over in Great Island in the big forest there, by the shallow water. I’m afraid Silverbeak, our female, is more of a home bird (haha, I do like my little jokes), and she watches her sibling longingly as he flies off to his new friends every morning. But she’ll get there too.

If we clutch again, we’ll have to leave her on her own, which her mother will find most difficult. But there are a few other immature females around who will take her under their wings (boom boom). She’ll be fine.

Back to me: yes, I am handsome. We rooks can’t be dealing with false modesty and if I had a roadkill for every offer I’ve had from broody females I’d have shitload of roadkill. Would you just look at that shine of eye and feather in that photo*. And that blueblack colour. The raw power in that beak. Eat your hearts out, you reclusive mountainy ravens, you jackass jackdaws.

And no, that’s not a soul patch. And yes, that is my natural colour, it’s been passed down on my father’s side for many generations. His brow was something to behold before the terrible winter of five or six cycles ago took him.

And here’s another thing: the way you humans depict us in art, literature and film. It’s galling in the extreme. And such a weak and pathetic trope. Every time there is a death scene, some corvids or other are gratuitously spread across the canvas, page or screen. I guess that silly Hitchcock film didn’t help. Those ridiculous Ted Hughes poems.

The raptors get a lot of this too. Every desert scene seems to have an eagle screech to match. Cliché isn’t the word for it. You can surely do better.

And our depiction as carrion eaters. This from a race that has set up a vast industry in the consumption of dead animals. We eat to survive, but you eat for pleasure. So don’t come labelling us as ‘carrion eaters’ with your mass butchery. And your predilection for war with your own species. And the development of weapons of mass destruction.

I won’t even talk about climate change. We’ll adapt, even if you won’t. You can be sure of that.

Now if you’ll excuse me: I have a bit of preening to do. Not that I need it.

*Image by Catherine Coakley