For the Birds Radio Program: Letter from Icarus

Original Air Date: Sept. 11, 1987

Laura intercepted a letter Icarus the Crow was sending to his family. (3:18)

Audio missing


The Continuing Saga of Icarus the Crow

(Recording of an American Crow)

Several listeners have asked me how Icarus the Crow is doing. If you heard last Friday’s program, you might remember that a Duluth mailman rescued him after he’d been shot.

Well, Icarus is on the mend. He can hop around now, even with his foot splinted. And his broken wing seems comfortable. Last week I discovered that another pellet had given him a wound on his side beneath his good wing, but it’s healing well.

Anyway, with Icarus watching my every move, I’ve been forced to see the world from a crow’s point of view. I even managed to intercept a letter he was sending home:

Dear Mom and Dad: These humans are schizophrenic–one minute they’re shooting at you, the next they’re fixing you up again. The one who takes care of me seems an okay sort–I can even recognize her now, but it’s dang hard to tell most of ‘em apart–humans’re sure not like crows in this respect. You think you can tell them by their plumage, but then they go and change it on you. Their feathers are not only removable, they don’t even cover all their skin–sometimes they look downright obscene, and as scrawny as a plucked hen. You wouldn’t believe their pitiful wings–no wonder we never see them up in the air. And they have no sense of style or subtlety–one day they’re red, the next green, and the next blue.

And if their wings are puny, you should see their deformed faces–believe it or not, they have absolutely no beaks! They do have something they call a nose where their beak should be, but you’ll never see one of them there noses opening a sunflower seed, and they got holes at the bottom so you couldn’t even store anything in ‘em without it falling out. The best they got is hands, but hands are nothing to a beak.

In the nest where I’m staying, they have two big humans and three smaller ones. The fledglings are all different sizes, like owls. Humans must start incubating the moment the first egg is laid, instead of waiting till they have a full clutch like sensible beings do.

In the name of objectivity, I should also mention that humans have perfected two fine things that we crows should emulate. The first is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I kid you not–peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are nature’s perfect food. When I come home, I’m gonna bring a whole pile of ‘em for you all to try.

And they end the day with a lovely tradition–lullabyes. Humans don’t have much range of expression when they’re angry or jolly, but they can sound downright sweet when they sing a lullaby.

They’re not all that intelligent–you can take my word for that–but apparently they are trainable. I already got that one I told you about trained to open sunflower seeds and to scratch my neck where I can’t reach. When I break outta here, I’m gonna take her home for a pet. The only problem is how to get her up in our tree, along with a big enough cage.

(Recording of an American Crow)

That was Icarus the Crow, this is Laura Erickson, and this program has been “For the Birds.”