We Tried to Figure Out Why So Many People Are Obsessed With This Knife-Stealing Crow
This bird is definitely more famous than you, and is about to have its own art show.
It turns out, a lot of people give a shit about Canuck the crow.
The Vancouver bird has close to 30,000 "likes" on Facebook. He's been "interviewed" on national news, and appeared in the pages of the Washington Post, The Guardian, People Magazine and others.
A fan in the UK conducted a DNA test to determine his gender. An admirer from London photographed his feathers under a high-powered microscope. Canuck's human companion, Shawn Bergman, also gets a lot of fan art. So when he put out a call for an upcoming art show, he and gallery curator Jennifer Angers Daerendinger got dozens of Canuck-inspired submissions from all over North America.
"I've got artists from Toronto, Washington, Portland—people from all over are sending in submissions," Daerendinger told VICE.
So what is it about this bird that has everyone so damn obsessed?
The crow has had a number of run-ins with locals and law enforcement, including stealing a police officer's pen, messing with a cyclist, destroying a cop's laptop, riding public transit, and the incident that brought him international notoriety: stealing a knife that was evidence at a crime scene.
The reason we know all this is mostly because of Bergman, who maintains the bird's Facebook presence. Found abandoned as a baby by his landlord's son, Canuck (identifiable by a red zip-tie on his leg) immediately imprinted on the 40-year-old Vancouverite, and the pair have been buds ever since. The one-year-old crow follows him to and from the bus each day, and Bergman specifically positions his days off so that they can hang out together (they go for walks in East Van's public parks, Canuck often sitting on Bergman's shoulder).
"A lot of people think that the reason he comes back to me is because I feed him," Bergman said. "But I don't. I'll give him an unshelled peanut once a blue moon. But I don't want him to associate me with food. Because that's what crows do. They're opportunistic. They look at it and go 'That face is a food source.' And I want him to look at me as 'I want to hang out with him because he's fun to hang out with.' For him to show up every day at my house is a really cool feeling. He's showing up because he wants to show up. Not because he's going to get something out of me."
People like Portland-based artist Kathryn Delaney can't get enough of this human-bird friendship. "I had done Canuck-related art prior to the callout," she told VICE. "I think this story just makes people smile and realize that we are connected to animals, and this crow that adopted him was there at the right time and place."
READ MORE: These Halifax Punks Are Raising Baby Crows
The show runs July 10 to 30 at Vancouver's Roam Gallery. More than 30 artists have submitted stuff ranging from street art to Picasso-inspired to cloth wall hanging, and Bergman and Daerendinger are still receiving submissions.
"I'm looking for sculpture. I'm looking for any medium that people are willing to send me," Daerendinger said. "I'd love a video projector, so we can project images of Canuck. He can't be there, so I'd love for him to be able to be there in some way."
Proceeds from the show will be donated to a local animal charity or bird sanctuary —although Bergman and Daerendinger haven't yet decided which one. In the meantime, Bergman and Daerendinger don't seem to have to worry about publicity, since the bird takes care of it himself.
"Jen and I were talking and we said: 'We need something big to happen to get him in the public eye,'" Bergman said. "And after I got off work, I was outside, hanging out with Canuck, and I'm sitting there thinking, and I couldn't come up with anything. And finally, completely as a joke, I looked at him and said: 'Can you do me a favour? Can you go do something batshit crazy? We need to publicize this show. We want artists, and people to come.'
"And he grunted at me—which he does sometimes and I didn't think twice about it. And literally three days later, he stole the knife. The next day, I wake up to 50 messages on Facebook 20 or 25 of them from major news agencies all over North America. ABC New York, and CBS New York, and People Magazine. And when I saw Jen the next day, she was like: 'I don't know what you said to him, but it worked.'"
Jesse Donaldson is a Vancouver writer.