Dispatch № 5: To the Death

Trees full of crows at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo

35°40’13.443″N, 139°41’42.99″E

It wasn’t immediately clear that anything strange was happening. We had just walked over the pedestrian walkway from the event plaza to Yoyogi Park on a lovely, early spring day. But as we made our way further into the park itself, the sound of crows took over.

Not just the sound of a few, which is a common enough thing in Tokyo, but the collected cacophony of hundreds, all seemingly determined to demonstrate the maximum volume of sound producible per lungful of air.

They occupied a group of trees that surrounded a vernal pool. Branches densely packed with glistening, black-feathered bodies. Branches sagging under the weight.

In the pool’s ankle-deep water, two crows were fighting. They were already tangling when we arrived, and still with some vigor. Over a short time, however, they visibly tired–first equally, but then one more than the other.

Not long after, one crow stood fully atop the other, forcibly submerging its head. Briefly and weakly, a sopping wing flailed, then stopped.

The noise also stopped. The birds all went silent when the weaker crow succumbed.

Slowly, they began to fly off in various directions. All the nearby humans whispered to one another, gesturing to the dead crow lying still in the water, wondering what they’d just seen.