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Faith and Inspiration

The mourning crow


We have all heard of the mourning dove. Most of us recognize a dove when we see it and all recognize the cooing of this lovely bird as being somewhat poignant, even sad. But have you ever heard of a mourning crow?

I have.

As a boy growing up in the Illinois of the forties, hunting, fishing, and trapping were unremarkable activities. I was shooting squirrels, rabbits, and pheasant when I was six or seven years old to contribute to the family's larder.

It was nothing to drive down a country road and see where a farmer had hung twenty, thirty, or more owls and hawks on his fence as trophies attesting to his “prowess” as a man and a hunter. During that time, hawks of all kinds were called "chicken hawks," and when a hawk was sighted, a regular hew and cry went up,

"There's a chicken hawk, Run, run, get the gun!"

Of course, the farmers were setting themselves up for a very real infestation of vermin, such as rats and mice which proliferated to plague proportions without their natural regulators, the hawks, and owls. 

And if you think hawks had it bad, baby, you didn't want to be a crow.

Crows were at the top of the list of undesirable elements and also at the top of every boy's hit list. They were shot, poisoned, and dynamited at their roosts literally by the tens of thousands and at government expense!

At that time, the Future Farmers of America encouraged hunting and trapping as proper land management, as did the Boy Scouts of America. We shot everything and anything that moved and bragged about the killing.

Now I said that to say this, I considered it right and proper to shoot animals. Some things happen in our lives that have a profound impact, an effect that can be life-changing.

Many years have passed since the occasion I am about to relate, and yet, in the perfect eye of my mind, I can see it yet. A group of crows started showing up each day in my woods and I laid for them with my twenty-two rifle.

Within minutes I had a dead crow at my feet, and as every crow hunter knows, if you position a dead crow on top of a fence post, it acts as a decoy to the rest of the flock and if you are clever and remain well concealed you can keep shooting and wipe out the entire group.

I placed the crow on top of a post and took up my position, rifle at the ready.

A single crow began calling and soon it flew down and landed near the dead crow. I took careful aim, but something kept me from pulling the trigger. In retrospect, I know what that something was.

The crow hopped closer to the fencepost where the dead bird sat still as death and then it flew up to a branch of a nearby tree. A distance of four or five feet separated the dead from the living. 

The visitor cocked its head and gazed at the inanimate bird as it began to cluck and croon. It flew near the dead bird several times as though attempting to drive it into flight, but, sad as it makes me to say it, dead birds don’t fly.

Eventually, I left and returned to the house, but later, I looked and the crow was still there, slouched, crouching there in its black mourning attire, crooning and whispering so sorrowfully as it kept its vigil.

I believed then and believe now that the mourning crow was the dead crow's mate. On the third day, I went out and buried the crow that I had destroyed. Only then did the mourning crow leave

Our actions and the results of those actions can impact us in profound ways. So it was with the mourning crow. That was the last crow I ever shot.


Dear God, how it must grieve you to see heartless behavior in your children, those you have created to watch over the animals. Yes, Lord, I want to please you in all things, in all ways. I want to glorify you by showing mercy toward all your creation. Lord, help me to have a spirit of protection, never destruction. Help me to recognize you as a merciful God and always to practice mercy, love, and kindness. In Jesus’ most Holy name, I ask this, Amen.

Charles Towne
Charles Towne

Charles Towne is, first and foremost, a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been, and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.

Charles Towne, Faith, Inspiration, Crows, Hunting, Mourning


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  • Richardmvelho

    A profound and telling lesson! Some lessons require pain and sadness because they are important and we need to learn them well! Actions have consequences. Our Father sent His Son to fully become human so that He could demonstrate to us the consequence of sin. The pain and suffering and finally death, but then He showed us the consequence of infinite love, which is to be forgiven and become a new creature not in partnership anymore but in UNITY with Him!

    Monday, May 22, 2023 Report this

  • Charles

    Richard, I believe that the most remarkable thing is that we do learn. That in and of itself gives testimony to a loving God! How else could a positive result come from a negative action/ Next week is a man's reaction to 'The Mourning crow. His comment is high praise indeed. Bless you my friend, Chaz

    Monday, May 22, 2023 Report this