9:06 p.m. - 2005-02-12
Hence today's write up will feature this social species: Corvus bradhyryhnchos, the Common Crow!
Relatives of the crow are other Corvids: Ravens and Magpies. These birds are very smart; they have some of the largest brains in the avian world.
One sign of crow's intelligence is the help they entail when finding a dead animal in the wild. Crows will make a lot of noise and stay by the deceased until packs of wolves or coyotes come to the scene. Then the strong teeth of the dogs will helpfully tear the skin open, so the crows can feast.
Crows and ravens are often confused for one another. Ravens are larger; sometimes four times heavier than crows, with a wingspan up to two feet larger. While crow's wings are silent during flight, ravens are noisy. Raven's bills are curved and crows bills are straight. Crows are seen more often in urban areas, and are growing in population; the opposite is true of ravens.
Crows and ravens both enjoy roadkill. Part of the reason ravens numbers are decreasing is that they do predate more often than their smaller cousin, which pushes them out of urban areas. Crows enjoy ripping open trash bags and are better at finding random stuff to eat.
Eating carrion is helpful for clean-up purposes, but does carry some risks. Often the birds contract rabies, but survive the disease. Many Midwest populations of crows have been decreased by infections of the West Nile virus, which is mosquito-borne, although live birds are found carrying the virus and surviving it, too.
Crows like to fly around together, sometimes in groups of a thousand or more. Usually they are headed to or from good roosting areas; places to sleep. There are several theories as to why they fly in huge groups. Some researchers just think it's just because there is safety in numbers. Additionally, it's possible that the birds can communicate to each other good roosting areas or carrion finds.
Next time you see a bunch of crows, look at the top of the trees/buildings for a few "sentinel" birds. These crows will not be grooming or calling; they'll be on the lookout for danger.
Like me, crows like shiny and sparkly things, and will swoop down to steal them! Apparently in Italy a crow stole some money from a man's hand right as it came out of an ATM! (Although authorities suspected it had been trained to do so.) Another thing to watch out for, people.
Also, crows like to roost near my places of employment and poop on my car.
The murder of crows looks just like this!
I hope you enjoy spotting these shiny black birds; mythical creatures in many world cultures.