My West Seattle neighborhood has been graced, the past few years, by a most unusual crow. Her actual sex is not definitively known, but those who lived on her street and watched her most closely suggest “she,” so I’ll go with that. This crow was famous in her small circle, and everyone seemed to have their own name for her: Brownie, Malty, Goldy, Chocolate Bar. I called her Leucy, after the pigment mutation, called leucism, that caused her pale color. Crows sometimes have leucistic patches–we see a more lightly feathered area on their wings or neck–but full leucism like Leucy’s is quite rare. She was completely leucistic, including her bare parts–her bill, eye rings, and feet. Tom took this great photo just two weeks ago:
Last Friday I received an e-mail from some neighbors that live about five blocks from me. I’d never met them, but one of Leucy’s favorite perches was right in front of their house. On the day of Seattle’s new heat record (over 103 degrees), they found her body on the parking strip. They were heartbroken at the loss of “Brownie,” and were writing to ask if there was anything they could have done to help her, which of course there wasn’t. I hated to foist my morbid tendencies on this super-nice couple, but this was such an amazing bird–I had to ask, “Did you by any chance save her body? Maybe pop her in the freezer?” They hadn’t. She’d been wrapped in plastic in the garbage for the last three hot days. Still, after receiving my question, they intrepidly dug her out and put her in the freezer. I was a touch worried. But the frozen body is actually in pretty good shape, now in my own freezer, next to the popsicles. She’s worthy of further study.
All who observed Leucy agree that she was a particularly fabulous bird, both in terms of plumage and personality. In her uniqueness, she invited people to look closely at the common birdlife around them. It was her color that drew the initial observation, but her general wild wonderfulness that kept people watching–something shared by all crows, and the rest of the wild life that surrounds us.
Thank you, lovely Leucy, and RIP.
PS: Based on a couple of requests, my husband Tom posted this and another photo of “Leucy” on Flickr.com under a Creative Commons license, meaning you are free to repost them, print them, etc – basically do anything you wish with the images short of profiting from them. They are at high enough resolution for a 5X7 print (unlike the image above in the blog post). Leucy photo 1, Leucy photo 2.