Connect to Nature Creative Writing

10.06.2020

All About Crows

Hello! Good Morning….or Good Afternoon (depending when you are catching up with this post!)

Today’s online creative writing class has the theme of Crows. This session came about after a socially distant visit to Meg’s garden, Meg was telling me about the Magpies that land on her roof and hang upside down from the drainpipe to tap on the window at her budgies!

It got us talking about the mischievous and spirited Crow Family of birds and I thought it would make for a brilliant creative writing class theme. We did a previous session on crows at our physical class at St Nicks back in 2016 or 17, so I have re-visited some of the tasks we previously enjoyed. Having done some more research on crows, I was surprised to find that the Jay is also a member of the crow family. That’s what I love about running these classes, there is always something surprising and new to discover.

So here is the class:

Task 1: (5 mins – or 50 mins if you take up my extension challenge!) The RSPB website has a whole page on the Corvus family and lists all the birds that belong to this family:

  • Carrion Crow
  • Chough
  • Hooded Crow
  • Jackdaw
  • Jay
  • Magpie
  • Raven
  • Rook

Can you use alliteration (when two words begin with the same letters or sounds) to give all these crows fancy names?! (e.g Colin the Chough, or the Jubilant Jay) Perhaps some of them deserve titles and double barrelled surnames!?

Extension task: If you have enjoyed having fun with this task you could take it one step further. Research each crow and their character and invent a flash fiction story about each one. (Flash fiction is a tiny story usually around 100 words long). For example: Ravens, despite being from the same family, are larger and more shaggier in appearance than crows, let’s say a little bit more punk rocker. Could you turn these characteristics into a story??

Task 2: (5 – 10 mins) I found a lovely news article about a girl who was brought gifts by crows, you can find it here. Studies have also shown that crows are highly intelligent and able to use objects as tools to achieve gaining food (you can read more about that here if you wish to).

Write about a walk in nature that you have enjoyed, although this time there is a twist. A crow swoops over the path and drops something at your feet. What is it? What is the story behind the object? Is it something natural or manmade? See where your imagination leads you…… (if you joined in last week’s class on the whispering trees you could continue your woodland walk description).

Task 3: (5 – 10 mins) Crows have fascinating links to mythology, sometimes being see as a good and sometimes as the bearers of bad luck or bad omens. In Norse Mythology the God Odin was often depicted with his familiars, two Ravens named Huginn and Muninn. On a site I found here, I learnt that crows in Greek Mythology symbolised Apollo and his gift of prophecy. Have fun making up prophecies for the following sightings of crows:

  • A crow flying low at dusk symbolises……
  • A jay’s feather found at full moon means ……
  • A crow on a bright summers morning is a sign that…..

Task 4: (5 mins) If you observe a crow flying you will see that the span of the wings curve at the tips and spread like fingers. If you can, spend five minutes observing any type of crow.

Top tips: Jackdaws have grey feathers and can often be found nesting in high places like church steeples and cliff faces. Jays and magpies have beautiful colours and love woodland areas. I often see black crows flying across the fields by my allotment. If you are shielding see if you can spot any through the window, or you can watch this great identification video here which has lots of great images and footage of crows.

Write a list of character traits for the crow that you observed. Eg. how curved is the crow’s beak, how does he/she walk or fly. Are their feathers ruffled or smooth, shiny or matt? See if you can get 10 traits.

I hope that you have enjoyed this theme! There is so much more I could write about, if you are interested in reading the latest research into crows gathering shiny objects I found a great blog post here.

I will end with this little rhyme about magpies, does anyone else count magpies when you see them? Are you like me, do you find yourself saluting a lone Magpie to cancel out the sorrow and ask him how his wife and family are?! I would love to hear about any superstitions you follow.

Magpies....
One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret 
Never to be told.
Eight for a wish
Nine for a kiss
Ten for a bird
You must not miss!

See you on Friday! I have some nice pictures and a book recommendation for you! Do email me any pictures or writing to e.mckenzie1@yorksj.ac.uk to be included in Friday’s post.


Best wishes,

Emma

All pictures courtesy of pixabay. Top cover picture original art work by Eloise Clark (Thank you!)

Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge (www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge) and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York (www.stnicks.org.uk) for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

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