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The Mysterious Crow

Updated on April 13, 2018

Intelligent, Haunting, and Fascinating

Over the past couple of years I have had to re-think my thinking on these clever birds. I used to think of them as annoying, dirty, and even a bit scary. I never thought of them as smart or social, or as a species of bird I particularly cared about. In fact, I never thought much about them at all. I am a (very) amateur bird watcher, so to say I didn't care much for crows is kind of rude. All of that has changed now. I hope to convince others who don't care much for crows to join me in my new-found appreciation for the crow.

I had a friend a few years back who had a thing about crows. I guess I just thought he was nuts. Now, though, I see he had the right idea. These fascinating birds are growing in numbers, and it largely has to do with their ability to adapt, especially to the increasing urban population. Turns out, they love to be around people. As they adapt more and more to the human environment, we learn more about them. For instance, did you know that one population of this clever bird in Israel has learned to use bread crumbs to bait fish?

What really got me interested in learning more about their behavior was a TED talk by Joshua Klein, where he describes his creating a Crow Vending Machine! For real! I thought, if they can do that, what else might they do?

Image Credit: Torresian Crow

Joshua Klein on his Crow Vending Machine


Fun Facts

Did you know this?

These magnificent birds are very social. In fact, they grieve when a member of the group dies, and they seem to hold a sort of funeral. They gather silently near the dead crow, sit for a couple of minutes, then fly away all at once, never uttering a sound.

A flock is actually called a "murder." The source seems to be from a period when naming groups of birds was popular. Probably so-called as they are associated with death.

Scarecrows only work with moving parts. Birds are not scared off by a scarecrow that is still. The only ones that really keep the birds away are ones that have parts that move with the wind or rotate on their own.

Families can have up to 15 members or more! Juveniles often help their parents raise younger siblings, and can wait until they are 4 years old to leave the family to raise their own.

Females are faithful to their mate for life, but males often cheat (go figure)

They often assign one to be the lookout to warn the others if danger comes.

They might travel up to 40 miles a day from their roost to forage for food!

Photo credit: Vermin Inc


Omnivore means 'all-eater' . They eat just about anything that can be considered food.

We humans are omnivores too.

Nat Geo Kids

A Crow Funeral

A Crow Funeral
A Crow Funeral

Crows can do what?

Adapt - like hobos.

Make Plans

Solve Problems



Recognize your Face

...David Dietle

The Creepy Side - Do they really just get a bad rap?

Silent Hill
Silent Hill

Or, maybe they deserve it? They are scavengers, and because of that, are associated with dead animals and even dead people - such as in battlefields, and cemeteries. When an animal or person is dying, they are sometimes known to circle above.

Yet, it could be, that they have so many human-like characteristics, that we are in general creeped out by them because we don't want to see ourselves in that way. They are clever, can learn and evolve, and are extremely social and intelligent.

Then there is this: They watch us...

Literature and Film has programmed us to think of Ravens and other birds in the family as creepy too. Think Hitchcock's "The Birds' or Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven

"Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Raven

Photo credit: "Silent Hill" by Dimitri

Counting Crows - Or Counting Magpies?


Depending on where you grew up, you've likely heard the rhyme, but called it by a different name. Which do you know it by?

"One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

... you probably know how the rest of it goes!

(from the version as sung by the Counting Crows in the song "A Murder of One.")

Traditional Magpies (the ones which are black and white and found throughout the Northern Hemisphere) are a part of the Crow (Corvid) family. Why American children count crows as opposed to British kids who specifically count magpies, I have not been able to ascertain. The best I can tell is that the original rhyme was "Counting Magpies" from 16th century Europe, and adapted to the more general Corvid term in the United States.

Are you Fascinated by Corvids? - Do you have a Crow Encounter to share?

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    • DreamingBoomer profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kay 

      4 years ago from Jackson, MS

      I love that story Tsad! Thanks so much for sharing it!

    • tsadjatko profile image

      4 years ago from now on

      My crow encounter...We obtained the greatest unusual pet of our lifetime when I was a kid. Crows from a crow's nest! I kept my two, Amos and Andy, in an aviary by the cellarway below my bedroom window. In the summer they'd fly from their aviary in the morning to my bedroom window to be fed, perch on and around the house and fly down to my shoulder when I called them. They had no desire for wild crows which would attack them any time they flew by. However all that freedom was soon to come to an end.

      My next door neighbor had a tomato garden with one huge prize tomato he was going to let go to seed. He'd come out day after day and adore it. Strangely he noticed instead of getting bigger it seemed to be shrinking. Closer examination revealed the insides had been sucked out through a hole in the back of the tomato. This is when we discovered how crows eat tomatoes. The neighbor complained to mom, and that day we clipped the crows' wings and kept them in the yard like a couple of chickens.

      Well that was fine with my brother and our friends because the crows were a hoot. They would tease our dog, a Lhasa Apso who had trouble seeing through all the hair over his eyes. Amos would peck at his butt and when he went to chase Amos, Andy would swoop in and hit his butt. They had him dizzy going back and forth.

      The funniest thing though was watching my mother hang out the laundry!

      The crows would stalk her just waiting for her to set down the laundry basket. Then one would sneak up to it and pull the clothing through the square holes in the plastic laundry basket. When my mother would shew them away they'd get out of her reach and crow at her as if they were laughing. So she'd have to hold the basket while hanging the clothes which inevitably caused her to drop a clothespin. Like lightning they'd run in and grab it, prancing around with their prize. Mom would set the basket down and chase the crow who would just stay out of reach and when she stopped he'd quickly drop the clothespin and crow at her. If she made a move for the clothespin he'd snatch it up and move off repeating the whole behavior.... meanwhile the other crow was dragging clothing out of the basket. They just lived to torment her. Eventually my mom started complaining her clothespins were missing and she'd have to buy more. That fall I was raking the leaves in the yard and I found a pile of clothespins buried behind a forsythia bush in the corner of the yard. You can read more about them on my hubpage The usual, "UNUSUAL PETS" I have had! Chapter 3

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 

      4 years ago from The High Seas

      I've been around a lot of crows and they are just fascinating critters to observe.

    • DreamingBoomer profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kay 

      5 years ago from Jackson, MS

      @HSP Connections: That's a smart bird! Thanks for the comment!

    • HSP Connections profile image

      Peter Messerschmidt 

      5 years ago from Port Townsend, WA, USA

      I think crows are very cool creatures. We have several of them that come visit our yard... but one in particular likes to come right up on our back deck, walking around to see if we've dropped anything good while eating a sandwich out there.

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 

      5 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      I love crows almost as much as I love parrots.


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