The Private World of Ravens and Crows
A Bird is a Bird is a Corvid
For centuries both ravens and crows have received a bad rap from humanity. They were described as harbingers of death during the Middle Ages, as they helped dispose of the dead in the streets that passed on from the Bubonic Plague. They also handled disposal of the dead during wartime. But what people didn’t see directly, was the fact that they always ate dead things.
Does History Repeat Itself?
Ravens have followed hunters and wolves for millennia to get a free meal. That in turn was during the time of the domestication of the wolf to become our familiar pet dogs. To this day the Common Raven associates with wolves, due to camaraderie. Nature is remarkable, is it not?
Crows and ravens have also been chastised and killed for eating crops, the reason being that they were “eating too much.” By the same token, these birds ate many of the farm pests that helped destroy crops, like corn borers. Perhaps that is why a group of crows is called a “murder”?
Crows were forced to move closer to cities to escape persecution as such. Rural crows were often shot, especially in roost areas. Today, many of our agrarian areas are shrinking due to humanity “spreading out.”
Crows and ravens have even infiltrated the English language to a large degree. If we “eat crow,” it means that we have been proven to be wrong. A “scarecrow” is put in gardens and in fields to purportedly keep crows away from the area, but does it really do that? I think not, as crows are smart enough to know that it doesn’t move, and really doesn’t resemble a human at all, just the basic form. Prior to that, there were “crowboys” guarding fields and repelling crows. I used to live a quarter mile from the ocean “as the crow flies,” which means the most direct route, whether or not it can be readily travelled. In criminal matters, a “crow” was a lookout for a thief. “Crow’s feet” are a common term for wrinkles about the eyes, and if you are a useless horse, you will soon be “raven food.” “Crowing” was an old term for the sounds that one made if someone had the croup. We said “Jesum Crow” instead of swearing in the country in Maine.
And There Are Many More!
Of all the raven, crow, and related species that used to be on this earth, several of the approximately fifty are either extinct, or well on their way. Hawaii has its own crow(‘Alala), but for how much longer, we can’t say) as well as the one in Guam called the Mariana Crow, which is endangered. We still have the Fish Crow, the Chihuahuan Raven, the Rook(in Europe and Asia), and the Western Jackdaw in Europe, Asia and northern Africa. It is possible that some of these species may have hybridized with another in order to survive.
Who Will Survive in the End? Crows or Ravens?
To attempt to reintroduce new life into these diminishing species is not easy. One must have a control group to work with, and if there are too few of the species available, they could be rather elderly. Fertile eggs are the key, and it is best if they are already incubated. Raising these chicks are also challenging, as they must be fed the correct foods with the right balance of nutrients, vitamins, and water. They also must be kept as disease-free as possible and also be fed frequently. Once these birds are taken from the nest, it opens up another entirely different venue for the scientists involved in this challenging venture. Not only is it time consuming, it is also very costly.
The Common Raven population is slowly increasing, but may not be if wooded lands are being turned into fields. The American Crow is definitely on the rise, specifically for the lack of wooded areas. They are adapting well to suburbia and the city, and have less threats to their lives than in rural areas.