The Way of the Crow



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Sometimes I would go outdoors and there would be no crows in sight – not one anywhere. Well, in less then it takes to type this sentence they appeared from no where askng for handouts. I hated to disappoint them. When they were sitting on a nearby branch I would talk to them and they would watch me nodding their heads.

Crows have a pecking order and are very family concsious. As we got to know each other better they would come and sit on the back fence and watch my windows, hoping I would notice them and bring out grub which, of course, I usually did. 

Crows are scavengers willing to eat virtually all animal and vegetable foods, excepting green plants. Insects, shellfish, and dead animal carcasses are mainstays of their diet. As well, crows have a habit of foraging through garbage, eating old animal and vegetable leftovers discarded by humans. They are able to eat almost anything because their stomach contains powerful enzymes and acids, which render harmless almost any offal, including food tainted with botulism. In fact, to a crow, a garbage bag is like a flea market table. Several garbage bags are like a giant flea market on a Sunday afternoon! We know how crazy humans can get at a flea market or a used clothing shop! Well, crows are the same way around garbage bags. So, the next time you see crows pecking through the contents of your garbage bags, remember my words, and try to be understanding.

The crow is a very social bird. Candace Savage writes that every corvid has a song, and that social groups of American crows, for example, have their own particular set of songs elements. She remarks that ". . . each social group uses a particular set of elements in its song - some the same as its neighbours, some different -- which members share through imitation. If two members . . . are particularly attached . . . they tune their songs even more closely to each other's."9 with certain species nesting in colonies, forming huge winter roosts. Tony Angell writes that there was a huge roost in Kansas having over five million crows.10 He doesn't specify where in Kansas the large roost gathered, nor what it was like. This is certainly an extraordinary figure and difficult to comprehend; I have problems imagining a roost of five thousand crows, much less five million of them! There are numerous other reports of roosts of crows numbering in the thousands.

The crow's affinity for corn and other so called "cash crops," has always been a source of much animosity towards them from farmers and agricultural authorities who, in the past, used extreme measures to limit crow populations. A good example of such extremes occured in the state of Illnois where a crow's roost was planted "with a thousand shrapenel grenades" while the crows were away foraging. When they returned to the roost, the grenades were detonated, ". . . and at daybreak one hundred thousand crows were on the ground. It was argued that such slaughter was necessary to protect crops ...livestock and game animals. Evidence to the contrary was ignored, as was the suggestion that corvids . . . might be beneficial to human enterprise."11

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