By March 15th most of the Siberian rooks have bolted back to Siberia. Of course, there are always one or two stragglers, a couple of rooks that perhaps decided Warsaw ain’t that bad, that maybe they can make a go of it here, escape that long tortuous trip back to the frozen expanse. The rest of the city’s corvid population, the hooded crows, the jackdaws, the magpies, jays and others will probably be glad to see the back of them. The rooks took over whole areas in their thousands: the Russian Cemetery, Pole Mokotowskie, the grounds of the Department of Life Sciences, Park Skaryszewski as well as other tree-filled areas.

The hooded crows (Corvus cornix, in Polish, Wrona Siwa) seem particularly animated after the rooks departure. They can be seen all over kraa-ing their little hooded heads off. This is the time for building nests, for preparing for spring. Up until now, the hooded crows had taken a back seat to the rather vociferous rook, but now they can seen swooping and swerving across the streets and skwers, their beaks full of tinder. In one of the tall elm trees on Ulica Lowicka two middle-aged hooded (more of a mask really at this age) crows have decided to do a loft conversion on the mistletoe orb in the crown of the tree. I can see their progress pretty well from my fourth floor window. Throughout the past week, together with another pair of crows and the pair of magpies, they have cleared the whole skwer of its oragnic litter.

In Scotland, where the hooded crow resides mostly on the coast, I had always thought it a mystical bird compared to the more common carrion crow. Unlike the latter, the hooded crow was rarely to be seen in the city, and it seemed an altogether more elegant and graceful mover. Here, in Warsaw, where there is no shortage of hoodies, it’s perhaps easy to get used to them. Yet, just because they are more numerous does not reduce the grace with which they move, whether on foot or by wing. They have a dignity, a shared compassion as it were, to their strides and wingbeats that exudes a confidence, and a trust, that enriches space.

As the great elm outside sprouts its red buds, and great heaped clouds travel across the sky, the hooded crow is definitely the mover of the moment.

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