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Why Crow’s Feathers are Black

Why Crow's Feathers are Black

An Inuit Folktale

Long ago, when crows were white, a crow and an owl sat on a log, talking together.

The crow said he did not like his color, and the owl said, “I wish I had some pretty spots on my back.”

“So do I,” said the crow. “Let us paint each other with black oil from the lamp.”

“To-whit, to-whoo,” said the owl. “What fun that would be!”

Now when a clay lamp gets old there is a lot of thick black oil in the bottom of it. The crow took one of the owl’s feathers, dipped it into the oil, and painted beautiful black spots all over the owl’s body. He did it very well and made the owl look fine.

Then came the owl’s turn to paint the crow. At first, he liked to do it, and made such pretty round spots that the crow began to feel very proud indeed. But before he was half through, the owl got tired of working so hard. Taking the lamp, he turned it upside down, and poured the black oil all over the crow.

How angry that crow was when he found himself covered in thick black oil! He tried his best to get it off, but it was no use. The black stuck fast.

Ever since then, the crow’s feathers have been black.


Citation: Riggs, Renee Coudert. Animal Stories from Eskimo Land. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1923. Edited by S.E. Schlosser. This story is in the public domain and is part of the cited work.

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.