Crows – pariah of the bird kingdom

The crow is the common name for a group of about 27 passerine birds. Crows can be found anywhere in the world except for Antarctica, New Zealand and South America. They are considered to be the most intelligent of birds and are very adaptable.

Loud, rambunctious, and very intelligent, crows are either loved or hated by humans. Farmers consider crows pests that damage crops by eating their seedlings. Their black feathers made many people fear them throughout history, often associating them with death. Crows are in the Corvidae family which includes ravens, magpies, and blue jays. The ubiquitous crow is loved by many for its sharp intelligence. When trying to open nuts, it will purposely place them in the roadway so some vehicle will crack them open.

More so than most other birds, Crows are also very territorial.  They will come to the aid of unrelated crows in need of help or distress.  Owls and hawks are their main enemies.

Crows are very social and have a tight-knit family. They roost in huge numbers (in thousands) to protect themselves from enemies like red-tailed hawks, horned-owls, and raccoons. Crows also use 25 different calls. The distress call brings other crows to their aid, as crows will defend unrelated crows. Crow couples are thought to mate for life.

In India, often associated with bad omen and also the world of occult, crows have been met with fear and resentment from humans. However, contrary to what people usually associate them with, crows are highly intelligent creatures that are known for adapting skillfully to their surroundings. Crows have a varied and evolved language. They can mimic various sounds and have a highly specialized language for communication. When gathered in huge communal groups, they may become a nuisance for people due to their shrill and loud ‘cawing’ and may even attack humans if disturbed. Crows have an extensive repertoire and can communicate a surprising number of messages to fellow crows including alarm, feeding, rally, comeback and fight calls. They also have a series of courtship calls.

The crow is well known for its ability to detect trouble. Crows quickly learn that a moving car is no danger, but will rapidly flee if the driver stops and gets out. In areas where they are constantly hunted, they learn the difference between a hunter with a gun and a farmer with farming implements. This degree of wariness is enhanced as the year progresses due to constant persecution by man. Crows use a system of guards that observe and sound warnings to all other crows in the area. These sentinels guard fields of feeding crows. They also send scouts in advance of feeding forays to check for danger.

The American crow can address problems using several solutions showing great problem solving skills. American crows can also count!

A group of crows is called a “murder.” There are several different explanations for the origin of this term, mostly based on old folk tales and superstitions. Another version for his name came about because a group of crows will sometimes kill a dying crow.

What is the difference between a crow and a raven?
Crows and ravens, although in the same genus (Corvus) are different birds. (Think of leopards and tigers; both are in the genusPanthera, and are obviously related, but they are quite distinct animals.) The words “crow” and “raven” themselves have little or no real taxonomic meaning. That is, the Australian “ravens” are more closely related to the Australian “crows” than they are to the Common Raven (Corvus corax). In general, the biggest black species, usually with shaggy throat feathers, are called ravens and the smaller species are considered crows.

Some birds charm with their plumage, others with their song.  The crow, however, is typed as the pariah of the bird kingdom. Nevertheless he lives a full life on a full stomach.  He’s a wise guy-and he has a lot of fun.


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