The wind howls across the ridge top causing the old snag to creak and sway. A family of crows call this ridge home. At any given time they’re seen exploring the parking lots of the industrial park looking for bits and pieces of food accidentally dropped by the workers as they rush to clock in. The one on the highest perch is the lookout. It’s his job to watch for dangers or opportunities. With nerves of steel he lights on the uppermost part of the dead tree with ease. I think that he was having fun as he rode the moving snag like a swing. Shortly afterwards the wind subsided and the old snag creaked to a halt. The crow scanned the landscape below and gave a sharp call that echoed from the hillside across from his roost. I looked on with thoughts of Poe’s raven in my head. I was waiting for the call to be followed by “Never more” when those thoughts Poe turned to thoughts of Hitchcock as the rest of the flock emerged from the lower branches in the woods. Together they brought forth a tremendous clamor of calls as they took positions beneath the old snag. Then one of crows flew out over the hill and out of sight. Then another which was followed by pair and a small group. Soon the whole murder of crows became airborne and followed the same course as the first. The last to leave was the one in tonight’s feature image. He was the first to arrive and the rear guard when the time came to move on to the next leg of whatever journey they were on.
The members of the Corvidae family are no bird-brains. In fact they are quite intelligent and have even shown the ability to make tools and recognize their own reflection in a mirror. Young members of this group of birds even play games. And when a member of their social group dies Corvids even show elaborate grieving rituals that includes making wreaths of grass.
Corvids are known to live in multi-generational families. I remember learning about how some crows and ravens will stay with their parents for two years and help raise the next brood.
Ravens do seem to be able to not only comprehend human speech but also speak it back to us. I’ve told the story before about one that learned not only to mimic my grandmother’s voice but also picked up on what time my uncle was supposed to be out of bed. It would sit outside of his bedroom window and call out his name in her voice until he woke up. The story goes that the bird was quite persistent as well.
When it comes to folklore a person could probably break it down and do a whole series on the folklore alone. I won’t go into a lot of detail about that tonight but the Corvidea family has represented everything from rain makers and messengers to omens of death. Each culture has it’s own tales of a corvid doing odd things. But, we’ll save that for another day.
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