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May 13, 2014 > Crows Cawing

Crows Cawing

By Pat Kite

Crow sits high on my Privet tree waiting for my dog to finish munching his morning kibble. Caw-Caw. Dog leaves to water my plants. Crow hops down to devour kibble. If I donÕt rescue kibble, it will be disappear. Caw-caw.

Our local crows are American crows with the fancy Latin name of Corvus Brachyrhynchos. There are crows in almost all parts of the world: carrion crows of Europe and Asia, house crows in India, fish crows in central North America, and the pied crows which are black and white, of tropical Africa.

Crows tend to have a bad reputation in some places. Being omnivorous, they eat mostly anything. Crows enjoy snails, snakes, lizards, baby birds, mice, insects, carrion or dead things, and a lot of vegetables, including poison ivy berries, pecans and corn. Farmers who grow corn really dislike crows. A fascinating tidbit: Farmers once employed boys and old men as Òcrow-keepersÓ or Òcrow-herds.Ó These folk were armed with bows and arrows to keep crows off the planted fields. By 1553 another word for a crow-keeper was Òscarecrow.Ó By 1600, scarecrows were straw dummies dressed like a man, optimistically hoping once again to discourage crows.

Over the years various unpleasant methods have been used to eliminate crows. However, crows are noted to be one of the most intelligent birds. With extensive training, crows can count aloud up to seven, and mimic up to 100 people words, including their ownerÕs voices. They are also adaptable, and so despite extensive efforts, there are still oodles and oodles of crows. Right now they might be multiplying in a nearby tall tree or bush. The cup-like nest of sticks, stems, bark strips and sometimes mud, is lined with grass, fur, hair, moss and rootlets. Within goes about four greenish-blue or pale blue spotty eggs. The female sits on them, but when the nestlings emerge, both parents do care-duty. Sometimes last yearÕs young come around to help. Thirty days later, young leave the nest. Caw-caw.

There is Alaskan Inuit legend about the good Crow. Seems when the world was very new; it was also always very dark where the Inuit people lived. They thought it was dark all over the world. But an old crow told them there was such a thing as daylight. He had seen it in his travels far away. The Inuit begged crow to bring them this light. Crow flew until he was very tired. By a series of witty tricks, he was able to steal a teensy bit of daylight. He brought this to the Inuits. Because it was just a teensy bit, there was only enough daylight for half a year. But the people could see far away mountains and the very blue sky. And so can you.

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