Crows Are Doing the Best They Can

In October, Elaine Godfrey laid out a defense of the much-maligned bird.


Reading the ornithologist Kevin McGowan’s comment that crows are “just trying to make their way and do the best they can” reminds me of the crow who has only one foot and who visits my office, in Washington, D.C., every morning.

I hear her cawing nearby—I know she’s a she, because she had a very noisy baby last year—and I call out to her. She lands on my windowsill, and I put out her breakfast. She loves blueberries but hates falafel—which I learned after she spat it out onto a man walking beneath the window.

One day, someone saw “my” crow eating her breakfast and said, “Aw, she’s so cute!”

How often do we perceive animals as “cute,” no matter what they are doing, instead of reflecting on their experience? After all, here’s this one-footed crow somehow surviving, avoiding electrical wires and traffic and mean people in our concrete city. She’s scavenging to feed herself and her demanding offspring. She is doing so many impressive things that I couldn’t possibly do. She is a whole adult individual, with a disability and enormous challenges, yet we often infantilize such stunningly clever beings, are amused by them, and think of them as just “cute.”

Usually, whatever animals do, it is thoughtful and intelligent—not just cute.

Ingrid Newkirk
President, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Washington, D.C.