Silverspot, the story of a crow

SILVERSPOT, The Story of a Crow
I

HOW MANY of us have ever got to know a wild animal? I do not mean merely
To meet with one once or twice, or to have one in a cage, but to really
Know it for a long time while it is wild, and to get an insight into its
Life and history. The trouble usually is to know one creature from his
Fellow. One fox or crow is so much like another that we cannot be sure
That it really is the same next time we meet. But once in awhile there
Arises an animal who is stronger or wiser than his fellow, who becomes a
Great leader, who is, as we would say, a genius, and if he is bigger, or
Has some mark by which men can know him, he soon becomes famous in his
Country, and shows us that the life of a wild animal may be far more
Interesting and exciting than that of many human beings.

Of this class were Courtant, the bob-tailed wolf that terrorized
The whole city of Paris for about ten years

in the beginning of the
Fourteenth century; Clubfoot, the lame grizzly bear that left such
A terrific record in the San Joaquin Valley of California; Lobo, the
King-wolf of New Mexico, that killed a cow every day for five years,
And the Seonee panther that in less than two years killed nearly three
Hundred human beings – and such also was Silverspot, whose history, so
Far as I could learn it, I shall now briefly tell.

Silverspot was simply a wise old crow; his name was given because of
The silvery white spot that was like a nickel, stuck on his right side,
Between the eye and the bill, and it was owing to this spot that I was
Able to know him from the other crows, and put together the parts of his
History that came to my knowledge.

Crows are, as you must know, our most intelligent birds. – ‘Wise as an
Old crow’ did not become a saying without good reason. Crows know the
Value of organization, and are as well drilled as soldiers – very much
Better than some soldiers, in fact, for crows are always on duty, always
At war, and always dependent on each other for life and safety. Their
Leaders not only are the oldest and wisest of the band, but also the
Strongest and bravest, for they must be ready at any time with sheer
Force to put down an upstart or a rebel. The rank and file are the
Youngsters and the crows without special gifts.

Old Silverspot was the leader of a large band of crows that made
Their headquarters near Toronto, Canada, in Castle Fra uk, which is a
Pine-clad hill on the northeast edge of the city. This band numbered
About two hundred, and for reasons that I never understood did not
Increase. In mild winters they stayed along the Niagara River; in cold
Winters they went much farther south. But each year in the last week of
February, Old Silverspot would muster his followers and boldly cross the
Forty miles of open water that lies between Toronto and Niagara; not,
However, in a straight line would he go, but always in a curve to
The west, whereby he kept in sight of the familiar landmark of Dundas
Mountain, until the pine-clad hill itself came in view. Each year he
Came with his troop, and for about six weeks took up his abode on
The hill. Each morning thereafter the crows set out in three bands to
Forage. One band went southeast to Ashbridge’s Bay. One went north up
The Don, and one, the largest, went northwestward up the ravine. The
Last, Silverspot led in person. Who led the others I never found out.

On calm mornings they flew high and straight away. But when it was
Windy the band flew low, and followed the ravine for shelter. My windows



Silverspot, the story of a crow