W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
Black Crow (Corvus capensis)
Location : Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa.

“If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.”
-Rev. Henry Ward Beecher mid 1800’s

There is little wonder that crows are very often the subjects of legends, folk-tales, and storytelling traditions around the world, all of which is very deep-seated and arising from myth and folklore thousands of years old. Anyone that has ever spent time with a crow will know how absurd these myths are and that Crows are no more ‘evil’ or ‘dark’ as depicted in these legends than a canary in a cage.

I make those remarks in light of the life I shared with Coco, a Black Crow (Corvus capensis), over the span of twenty years. She was keen of sight and hearing, and her other senses were no less acute. As was her sense of humour! She loved to mimic men laughing, producing the exact deep resonance of the male voice. She would also have a conversation with herself, changing voices as she went along, which she reproduced from the garden staff talking to one another. Another favourite of hers was hooting like a car, getting everyone in the household to go outside to see who has arrived. She would also call someone by their name at the top of her voice, also getting that person rushing outside to see who was calling, then uttering a long, low laugh, as if enjoying the havoc she’s causing.

She loved to play tag, pretending to peck your foot, getting you to chase her around the garden. And of course, one ‘myth’ that is absolutely true, is a Crow’s love for shiny stuff. No tea tray was safe unattended outside, as all the spoons would disappear and any jewellery lying around the house was at great risk!

A valuable lesson we could all learn from a crow is that they never “stuff” themselves with food. She would only eat until she was satisfied and then take the rest and hide it all over the garden, ready to be picked up at a later stage.

It is this kind of sensitivity that makes crows and other corvids legendary birds.

Coco passed away at the age of 27 in my garden (Tarlton, south Africa) after a stroke and I can honestly say no other animal enriched my life like she did.

  1. 8 March 2013 – FEATURED in Country Bumpkin
  2. 9th March 2013 – FEATURED in Everyday Women


animals, bird, birds, painted birds, kraai, swart kraai, coco, crow, raven corvid, corvus, corvus capensis, maree clarkson, tarlton, magaliesburg, krugersdorp, gauteng, watercolour, south africa, watercolor, wildlife, nature, africa, the way of the crow

I am a watercolorist living on my little piece of African soil in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa. The inspiration for my art is the wonderfully rich variety of Fauna and Flora to be found throughout this beautiful country.
“There is a fine line between dreams and reality; it’s up to you to draw it.”

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  • Quinn Blackburn
    Quinn Blackburnabout 3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with Coco! Corvids are amazing Creature Teachers, and have been good friends to me wherever I have lived. The local storytelling nests around our house, and I listen to their chorus every morning. :o) They never cease to amaze and amuse me :o) Beautiful watercolor portrait to accompany your narrative, well done!

  • Ah Quinn, I’m pleased you relate to this! You’re so lucky to have them nesting close-by, they can supply hours of amusement! and great Teachers they are, I agree. thank you for your lovely words, I really appreciate that!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Quinn Blackburn
    Quinn Blackburnabout 3 years ago

    Every spring there is always one young crow on the ground for me to meet eye to eye. Young and old, they love the treats I leave out for them, and often seem to feel obligated to let me know when visitors like Hawks, Falcons or Turkey Vultures show up. They have their own complex language, mourn their dead, and will even use traffic to crack open particularly tough foods like nuts! Science is learning that Animals in general are capable of far more than we ever believed possible before. Crows are only surprised that its taken us this long to catch on to them :o)

  • ‘Within my shadow’ is a powerful piece of writing Quinn and I certainly will be returning to read more from time to time, can’t take in everything in one shot. I often do that with books too and rediscover snippets of information and revelation as I go along. Humans can be equally strong teachers, if one is lucky enough to find a soul mate(s) along the way.

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Jim Phillips
    Jim Phillipsabout 3 years ago

    I’m not sure the people with dogs and cats could relate as many experiences as you have Maree. Coco was indeed quite the bird.

  • And that she certainly was Jim! Thank you for visiting!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Magaret Meintjes
    Magaret Meintjesabout 3 years ago

    A beautiful artpiece and how much I enjoyed the story as I had one myself !

  • Thank you so much, and don’t you just miss her/him Magriet?

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Elizabeth Kendall
    Elizabeth Kendallabout 3 years ago

    A lovely true story (for your book!) and a beautiful painting. I wish I could hear that laugh!!

  • And I can hear her laugh to this day Liz! And it certainly will find a space in ‘that’ book! Thank you for your lovely encouraging comment, I really appreciate that!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Also appreciate the fav, thank you!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Cindy Schnackel
    Cindy Schnackelabout 3 years ago

    Wonderful image and information, she sounds like a real character, (as are all birds probably!).

  • Yes, each and every one of them Cindy! Thank you for your lovely comment, I appreciate that!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • AndreaEL
    AndreaELabout 3 years ago

    What a lovely image Maree, so true to life, wonderful work. You are so talented.

  • Oh Andrea, thank you for those lovely words, very heart-warming! I think it’s my love for these wonderful birds that shows through, the same as one can see it in your photographs of those beautiful little wax-eyes! Smile!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • mrcoradour
    mrcoradourabout 3 years ago

    Wow what a stunning and creative work of art & the narrative is wonderfully interesting.

  • ahhhh, thank you for your lovely comment Malcolm, really appreciate that!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Angela  Burman
    Angela Burmanabout 2 years ago

    Omg Maree this absolutely devine. How wonderful that you had your little friend around for such a long time. Really loved reading your description. Stunning work

  • Aaah, thank you for your lovely words Angela! Coco touched everybody’s hearts that met her and I am truly thankful I had those wonderful years with her. Thank you for adding it to your favs, much appreciated!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Macky
    Mackyalmost 2 years ago

    You do wonders with watercolours Maree!!

  • Aaah, thanks ever so much Macky!

    – Maree Clarkson

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