Tuesday, January 17, 2012

As the crow flies

They're enthusiastic, intelligent, and socially evolved. They’re also loud, messy, and opportunistic.

They’re crows.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing more and more crows around Altadena over the past couple of years. Some mornings my camphor tree plays host to 50 crows -- that is, if they can win the daily battle against the parrots for squatting rights. The parrots can out scream them, but my money is usually on the crows. They seem better organized and more patient. One particularly successful tactic is the stealth attack, which startles the parrots into a state of orgiastic hysteria.

Ordinarily I welcome birds to my yard; the more the merrier, but I always had a thing against crows, maybe from living in the Midwest. But the more I learn, the better I like them.

Crows are all over Altadena, but then, they’re all over everywhere, and can claim relations in every continent except Antarctica.

They believe in close knit families. You might say they take family values to extreme – perhaps absurd -- lengths. The kids are spoiled, coddled, and remain emotionally immature for quite some time; apparently many will hang around the house sponging off the parents until well into middle age. The parents don’t seem to mind,
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32 comments:

  1. I'm of the mind to run them off after having a flock of them DESTROY a beautiful lawn in about 3 days. Why? A neighbor took walks and he'd eat peanuts along the route, tossing the empty shells everywhere, including the lawn of a client of ours. The crows dug into the lawn looking for a scant bit of food (nevermind the local park had PLENTY available near their trash cans). Wild pigs didn't do this much damage when grub season hit!

    You can keep 'em!. Then again, I suppose the family values folks already assumed that about me...

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  2. Trish, I'd say you ought to exterminate your neighbor, not the crows! ;-)

    I love 'em. If you've never seen videos of how they use tools, snowboard and recognize faces, look them up on YouTube, they are amazing. The whole crow-type family of birds are so smart - you can see the intelligence in their eyes.

    Of course, my maternal family name is Crow and it's the branch of my family that I've researched and written about, so I'm biased. Apparently calling a family Crow back in ye olden dayes was a designation that there was a "black bird" (or "black sheep") in the family. Somehow that doesn't surprise me, having read about some of my ancestors!

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  3. NOT a fan of crows... We had a dog that was being constantly attacked by those damn things...Crows remind me of the cartoons (back in the 60's)... laid back prey... I hate it when they nudge out the birds at the birdfeeder..

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  4. Now that I'm thoroughly fascinated by them, do you think even one crow visited me this morning? No. Word must have gotten out.

    Karen, I watched the mask video when I was writing this. Not only will a single crow hold a grudge against a particular individual, he or she will pass the grudge on to future generations. How human is that?

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  5. The only time I have a thorough dislike for them is when I'm camping. I do understand that campers must get up at the crack of dawn, and so do crows. They start yelleng at each other in the trees above my tent when I want to break the rule and sleep in. It's then I long for a shotgun. Other than that I'm finewith them. Oh yeah, they come in murders.

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  6. I'm a crow fan. They're incredibly intelligent, as you say, and very mischievous, as well. I'd even go so far as to say that The Frenchman and I consider it good luck when we see a number of crows hanging around.

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  7. http://cuteoverload.com/2012/01/14/snowbirding-or-crowboarding/

    A Murder of Crows:

    http://video.pbs.org/video/1621910826/

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  8. Pierre, hold your fire. And Carolynn, yes.

    Hah! Paula, over at patch, you and I posted a refer to the video at the same moment.

    I find it so odd that today, of all days, they're not hanging around my shack. They know I want to spy on them.

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  9. not a fan of crows, but nothing against them either. clearly they are doing something right in the SGV with their growing population.

    i also used to think they were loud until peacocks started reproducing in the 'hood.

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  10. Right about the dialect - south of the Mississipi, at St. Paul i.e., I detect a different inflection. And the city crows compared to the country, too. More raucous, though not entirely disagreeable.

    Family members and neighbors would complain about their early rising habits, but I welcome anything that harmonizes so well with the trains in this town built from the rails. And, I take heed, usually, when a loner speaks to me. Well, most times, I do.

    once, the old crow
    gave me a sign;
    I should have listened

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  11. Crows are always around, but they seem to particularly congregate during the winters here. They are fascinating birds; no wonder there are so many stories, fables, poems about them.

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  12. Well, Alex, I like the peacock sound. YAOOOOOUUUUU. YAOOOOUUUU. I lived on place with six peacocks and found their song romantic, elegiac.

    Bandit, why am I not surprised you can catch these nuances. The poetry of crows.

    Margaret, I think you're a crow mom. But maybe a parrot mom, although I don't know the requirements for that one.

    MS M, I know Native Americans included them in lots of fables. To the crow's advantage, I wonder? Will have to check.

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  13. We live in an area with an incredible number of crows. I agree with the smart part. They are both smart and totally organized. We see them fly over our house (hundreds of them) every morning and then back again just before dusk. It's clear that they communicate with each other also. There is a lot of dogfights between the crows and the local hawk and seagull population. Oh yeah, a while back I saw a crow take the lid off of a metal trashcan.

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  14. thankfully, not my neighbor, just that of a client. and, the higher power thing is going to take the neighbor out soon enough---he's 92, has a heart valve problem that he won't have addressed, so...you do the math.

    still dislike the crows...while it was Jim that laid down the peanut shells, the crows still shredded the entire lawn. If they are so smart, one would think they'd only go for the shells that had nuts left in them?!?! just saying.

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  15. I taught for a few years at a school up on a hill with crows flying around it ~ I felt like I was driving into a haunted house every time I went there. But since then, I've grown to accept them. They can be very endearing. That said, when they bother the birds in my trees, I do go and wave a broomstick in the air at them, to add to the mystique of the whole thing {and the unfounded rumours about me in the neighbourhood}.

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  16. Much as I like them, I think crows are on the cowardly side. During nesting season you always see little tiny birds dive bombing them and driving them from the territory.

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  17. Btw: Tennis is a violent sport to the rackets:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mM02295xo88&feature=g-

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  18. Some parrots flew by the other day and I felt very homesick for Pasadena.

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  19. Your crows' relatives are in my yard, too. I prefer them to the deer, since they don't kill my plants and trees. Then again, I don't have anyone tossing peanut shells on my lawn.

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  20. I like birds too, but not a fan of crows. I went to a talk last year on birds in Yosemite Valley. The crows, following people's trash, have made their way to the Sierras and their population has grown considerably in Yosemite Valley. As a result the song birds of the Sierras are diminishing substantially. Crows are nest raiders and are killing the smaller birds, -- the song birds in the Sierras.

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  21. crows as anti empty nesters? too fuinny

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  22. Well into the dotage, the crow kids are welcome back to the parent's basement. So long as they don't blast Nirvana.

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  23. I too disliked them and their noise. But writer after writer, esp. poet after poet, has been singing their praises for awhile now. The more info, like yours, I come across, the more appealing they are.

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  24. Cats - feral cats, pet cats on the loose, even, the enemies of songbirds. I know kitty can't help himself, but I've seen the statistics, and they're mindboggling. Where is your cat right now?

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  25. Adam's Apple

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0418455/

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  26. Bandit, that's a good point. My two cats are indoor only, mainly to keep them out of harm's way (cars and coyotes), but it's also better for the bird population.

    Wow, that PBS video is amazing. I knew crows were smart, but I had no idea they were that intelligent.

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  27. My name is Tash and I'm a crow-Mom.

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  28. We've got a group of crows hanging around here. I don't like them cuz they won't talk back to me. The squirrels do. (PS - I heard from a local naturalist that they've been chasing other birds out of the area. Don't know if it is true though.)

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  29. We've been going back and forth on that issue, crowmom. I'm with Bandit and Susan -- cats pose a much greater threat to the songbirds. I believe a bell on the collar can mitigate their success, however.

    Plus, crows are omnivores. They may take an occasional egg, but it's not the mainstay of their diet.

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  30. Did no one see the classic Hitchcock movie "The Birds"??? I live in fear every time I see more than three crows on a telephone line!!!

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  31. I'm with the Chieftess, crows scare my to death. Especially the ones in Tokyo...they make the crows back in Michigan look like robins. So huge.

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