A talking crow befriended an Oregon elementary, went viral, then went missing

by SAMANTHA SWINDLER at seattletimes.com

This is a story — a true story — more than three years in the making.

In December 2021, a talking crow flew into a Grants Pass elementary school and started playing with, talking to, and seemingly swearing at the schoolchildren. He hung out most of the day, playfully swooping and chasing kids on the playground. Police were unable to catch him. The Oregonian headline read: “Friendly, foul-mouthed crow befriends entire Oregon elementary school before state police are called in.”

It turned out the crow had a name, Cosmo; and an owner, Janeal Shattuck. Her daughter came to retrieve Cosmo after his school day and took him back home.

Cosmo had been rescued as a young bird and raised by Shattuck, but he was a free animal, able to come and go outside and inside her home in Williams, in Oregon’s Josephine County.

After Cosmo’s viral moment at the school, I contacted Shattuck about getting some video clips of her talking bird to share on The Oregonian/OregonLive’s social media accounts.

But when I called Shattuck, she was distraught. Cosmo had gone missing again. And this time, she suspected he’d been killed.

It turns out Cosmo had enemies, and a dark side. Some of the neighbors felt terrorized by the bird. The police had been contacted — multiple times — about Cosmo swooping and pecking kids in the neighborhood.

What followed was a sprawling investigation into Cosmo’s disappearance: Did someone shoot Cosmo? Who would have had the motive, means and opportunity? If foul play were involved, was it justified?

And who was Cosmo, really: A victim or a villain?

It’s become kind of a whodunit mystery. Except there was no crime committed, because killing a crow like Cosmo would have been completely legal.