We all jump on the bandwagon of accepted perception. Most of us believe begonias are infinitely more spectacular than dandelions. Hollywood starlets kick secretary ass, and anyone who makes over six figures is somehow smart.
Are these perceptions worthy? Take the eagle and the crow, for example. Everybody loves the eagle. It’s big. Nice plumage. Cool squawk. The supermodel of the sky. And deadly too, with talons that could rip your face off in one fell swoop. No surprise then that the eagle maintains legendary status, an iconic avian encapsulating everything from freedom to godliness. Napoleon used eagles to symbolize his new French Empire, it’s the national bird of the United States, and every country from Austria to Zambia has some semblance of Haliaeetus leucocephalus (bald eagle) or one of its 61 cousins on their coat of arms. Yes, eagles have it made it the shade.
As a result, eagles are special, a protected species in most parts of the world. They can spot a mouse from 1,000 feet up. Awesome. Flying 70 kilometres per hour is no big thang. They’re revered kings and queens of the sky.
Then there’s the crow. No one really likes the lowly crow. For starters, it’s boring. All black, right down to its beady little eyes. Probably the worst of it though, is that crows occupy every single chunk of earth, save the poles. Crows are ubiquitous, and we loathe them for it: waking us up in the morning as they squawk incessantly at marauding raccoons, loitering at the side of the road, pecking away at week-old road kill, stealing our kids lunch bags, and dropping walnuts on our cars. Crows could easily be called the rats of the sky.
Which is more special? The eagle with its aerial aristocracy? Its grandeur and myth? Or the crow? The equivalent of an insect or a cow? We even refer to a large collection of crows as a “murder,” while eagles get the much more regal “convocation.” The delineation between the two is woven into our everyday. It’s non-contestable. Flip it on its side, though, and ask yourself, why can’t the crow be top dog? It must be one of the most successful animals in the history of all faunal things. No habitat protection necessary. Via smarts, wherewithal, ambiguity, sheer population, the crow survives. It doesn’t need a whack of specifically adapted subspecies, it’s just black and ridiculously smart. Crows have been known to build tools and use them!
The eagle, despite that it’s the biggest bully scavenger in the sky, is relentless. When the two eggs it usually lays hatch, the older, larger chick frequently kills its younger sibling, getting all the glory. A metaphor really for how humans look at many things. The big and the beautiful, despite their often tyrannical behaviour, get our respect and admiration, while the plentifully industrious generalists get the goat. The perception bandwagon wins again.
Eagle versus crow? I choose crow.