It's almost impossible not to notice crows in late summer, autumn, and winter in our area: They appear as an endless frieze of silhouettes streaming across the sky at sunset to communal rookeries, where they settle in for the night while making a huge ruckus.
In Seattle, the crows flew east over our house in the evening en route to a rookery on Foster Island in the botanical gardens near the University of Washington. Here in the Woodinville area, more than 10,000 crows flock at the UW's Bothell campus. Clearly these are brainy birds if they feel most at home in the vicinity of institutions of higher learning. (Video here.)
Crows in Cottage Lake, however, fly off when we're still 20 feet or so away. With fewer people per block, and even fewer walking on local streets, I guess the crows haven't had as many encounters with people as city crows. (It's not farm country, so it's not that they've learned to associate humans with gunshot.)
Just about everybody has a crow anecdote. My first one involved attempting to rescue a blue-eyed baby crow fledgling who was sitting in the road right under my friend C.'s car tire, gazing up at us trustingly as we tried to shoo him to safety while his parents screamed overhead. I finally had to scoop up the little guy to deposit him on the sidewalk.
My thank-you consisted of being dive-bombed by the furious pair of crows and having my head pecked and my hair pulled. Plus they yelled and cawed at me every time I returned to that spot, which I had to do just about every day since it was outside my kid's elementary school. (Crows have been shown to have keen facial recognition skills.)
Another story involves coming home to find about 75 crows perched on the roof of our Seattle house and in the branches of our trees, all hollering their heads off. Unfortunately, I eagerly shot pictures of the bald eagle sitting on a telephone pole across the street calmly eating a pigeon (the focus of the crows' fury) instead of the crows. Looking back, I think the mass of crows would've been a far better picture.
|Just a scant few of the crows harassing the bald eagle.|
|This one seized upon some unguarded pizza at the playground |
during an elementary-school picnic a few years ago.
|Junior is the blue-eyed bird on the right |
with the gaping, insatiable red maw.
|"What did you get? Anything for me?"|
We've had lots of lovely birds visit our new garden, but so far crows have only dropped in once. I hope they'll be paying us some more visits because I find them endlessly entertaining.
|Crows bravely whooping it up at Woodland Park Zoo, |
pilfering pumpkin right from under the noses of the grizzly bears
Bird Brains by Candace Savage
Gifts of the Crow by John Marzluff and Tony Angell
In the Company of Crows and Ravens by John Marzluff, Paul Ehrlich, and Tony Angell
Crows: Encounters with the Wise Guys by Candace Savage
Mind of the Raven [the crow's cousin] by Bernd Heinrich
Some cool crow videos:
National Geographic "Clever Crows" 2-minute film
Nature's "A Murder of Crows"
Crow fashions hook out of hairpin to get food from a tube
|Crow winkling critters out of shells, Carkeek Park|