There is no such thing as a chicken crow

Sharon Kennedy

At one time or another, we’ve all seen a crow dining on a dead skunk or some other unlucky rodent lying in the middle of the road or alongside it. Saturday I was driving to Brimley and wondered if the crow on the road ahead of me would fly away before I hit it or if this time my car would end his days as a scavenger. Crows play “chicken” all the time. They usually win and Saturday was no exception. The crow flew away from his dinner seconds before he would have met his doom under one of my tires.

I don’t know if crows are courageous, hungry, or just plain stupid. Why do they wait until the last minute before they head for the sky? Do they have poor eyesight and thus do not see a car approaching? Are they hard of hearing? Are they concentrating more on filling their belly than on their safety? I did a quick Google search and found some answers.

Crows have excellent eyesight and better hearing than most humans so my first two questions were answered. Crows are also very intelligent so I suppose they’re not thinking about feeding or safety. They’re thinking about timing. They know the exact moment when to take flight. Unlike some of us who hang around a situation too long and end up in hot water, crows seem to possess better judgment.

It’s very rare to see a dead crow on the road, but it’s not uncommon to see a seagull. These poor fellows are heavier than crows so it takes them longer to escape highway danger. And if truth be told, seagulls lack the intelligence of crows. To prove my point without conducting a longitudinal study, I’ll ask a simple question. Have you ever seen a crow hopping around a fast food restaurant parking lot? Probably not, but I’ll bet you’ve seen seagulls begging for a bite of your Big Mac or a handful of French fries.

Some crows are like people. They stick their beaks into business other than their own. They’re notorious for raiding nests and devouring eggs and nestlings. They have no conscience when it comes to taking something that doesn’t belong to them. They make no apologies for the destruction they leave behind because that’s their nature. It’s also in their genetic makeup to raid open compost piles, grab large pieces of suet meant for the chickadees, and devour road kill. I suppose the latter is a good thing because they act as maintenance keepers of the roadways.

When I was pondering what to write about for this week’s column, the sight of that crow playing chicken got me thinking. I know a fellow who drives his car with one finger and thumb on the steering wheel. He says he has more control than most people who grip the wheel with both hands. I don’t like to ride with him but if I have to, I request he put at least one hand on the wheel. Naturally, he refuses.

I know another person who depends upon her brakes to compensate for her obsession with speed. She waits until the last minute to slam on the brakes to avoid crashing into the car in front of her. She whizzes down dirt roads at high speeds, totally oblivious to the possibility of a deer, dog, or any other animal crossing in front of her. When we go on an outing, I suggest we take my car, but she says I drive like an old lady so we always end up taking her vehicle.

What do these two characters have in common? Obviously, they like to play chicken. They’re like crows. They have faith in their ability to outwit any driving situation facing them. They have no respect or consideration for the person in the passenger seat. They assume they’re invincible and as far as I know, luck has always been with them. It’s not skill that has kept them from causing an accident so it must be luck as well as timing. They give themselves just enough time to grab the wheel or slam on the brakes before impact. Maybe I’m an old fuddy-duddy, but as much as possible I avoid riding with Mr. Two Fingers and Ms. Brake-aholic.

Some situations can be avoided if we see them coming, but others spring upon us with no warning. We’re caught off guard and thrown into a tailspin. I suppose our reaction depends upon our conditioning. If we’ve lived a protected life and always had people around to shield us from unpleasantness, we might not know how to handle difficult times. If, on the other hand, we’ve weathered many storms on our own, we might fare every bit as well as a crow regardless of our new circumstances.

As we age I suppose we go in one of two directions. We either become more ridged and set in our ways or more pliable and accepting of change. Either way, many of us probably remember a time when life was simple. We obeyed our parents, kept marriage vows sacred, raised respectful children, and tried to make the best of the lot we were given. If we didn’t play by all the rules, at least we obeyed most of them.

Unlike crows, we saw no reason to play chicken with life.

Editor’s note: Sharon M. Kennedy of Brimley is a humorist who infuses her musings with a hardy dose of matriarchal common sense. She writes about everyday experiences most of us have encountered at one time or another on our journey through life. Her articles are a combination of present day observations and nostalgic glances of the past. She can be reached via email at In addition, Sharon has compiled a collection of stories from her various newspaper columns. The title of her book is “Life in a Tin Can.” Copies are available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle format.