Writing | Rage | A Flock of Crows is Called a Murder

Two children defend their home from invading crows and learn the word that describes so much of their life: horripilation--when hair bristles from fear.

Story Origins

A Flock of Crows is Called a Murder

In winter, crows roost along Chatham's Thames River in unbelievable numbers (the most conservative estimate I've seen is 12,000, the most extravagant over 1,000,000, with the most accepted being about 100,000). Located at the convergence of avian migration routes, the city is idyllic from a crow's perspective--warm buildings, nocturnal light for spotting predators, and plenty of open farmland to provide food. However, it's the corvine tendency to scatter unsecured garbage, fill the air with chatter, and slicken sidewalks, cars, buildings, and ventilation systems with droppings that frustrates the human residents. While crows plaguing urban centres isn't anything new (I've heard of reports dating as far back as 1909 investigating crop destruction in Kent County), the situation in Chatham attracted national attention in the 1990s when the city went on the offensive with tactics ranging from noise assaults to outright culls. Now, over twenty years later, a strategy of resigned acceptance has been proposed as nothing the city tries seems to have a lasting effect.

Set in the early 1950s, "A Flock of Crows is Called a Murder" follows Gary and Louise Martin (ages 9 and 13 respectively) as they wage their own war against the crows. However, unlike the real-life residents of Chatham, Gary and Louise's motivation is far more personal than either a destroyed lawn or a shit-covered car.

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