MYRLN‘s Monday 7/16/07

Crow’s Feet by guest-poster, MYRLN.

“I Gotta Crow,” Peter Pan says (not meaning he’d captured one).

Counting Crows was a rock group.

A crowbar doesn’t have wings.

Eating crow, figuratively, is no fun, and literally would likely be awful

Yet on the whole, crows are a pretty interesting species, despite their predilection for standing in the middle of the road and eating the innards of recent roadkill. And despite the name for a collection of them: a “murder” of crows.

Watching them steadily, however, can give you a genuine respect for their intelligence and behavior. For example, throw a slice of bread out in the yard for them on a regular basis and at the approximately same time, and in short order, the crows will learn the behavior and arrive within a half-hour to collect the bounty. And they don’t sit there and peck at it either. They pick up the whole slice, even an end crust, and fly off with it. All this only after one has seen the bread and called one or two other crows to come over and keep protective watch while he goes down to gather it. They like an occasional dog biscuit, too, as ascertained when one flew by carrying the bone-shaped treat and looking thusly much like a tuxedoed crow wearing a bow-tie.

They are, of course, marauders, too, as everyone knows. They search out nests of other birds and try to make a meal of eggs or fledglings. The nest birds will naturally counter-attack and drive off the invading crow. And the crow will fly off, chased and pecked at by the nesters, while making no effort to resist or fight back. (A fact also true of hawks being chased by smaller birds, including crows.) There’s just too much available to bother fighting for it.

The other fascinating aspect of crows is their group behavior. While families keep pretty much apart from each other, staying in their own defined territory, there are times when that separation is dumped. A couple times a year, there’s a migration, and in that instance, hundreds and hundreds of crows fly off together in a great black sea aloft, wave after wave of them. No “vee formation” as with geese, just a wide and long sheet with occasional breaks between the sheets (no pun intended).

The other group action comes when a crow’s nest (a real one, not a ship’s lookout post) is targeted by a hawk. A cry goes up from the endangered nest. A member of a nearby family comes to investigate, sees the situation and goes back his nest to report, and a call goes up down the line of families until soon there a dozens of crows showing up to drive off the invading hawk (who merely flies off in search of another meal elsewhere). Then all return to their own family nests to resume whatever they were doing before called to defend a neighbor.

As for crow’s feet, they look okay on a crow but not around your eyes.

Our language makes use of many crow analogies.