Friday, February 8, 2013

American Crow

In North America, the American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is a common sight. The Crows is an all-black bird, even on the legs and bill and has a short tail that is rounded or squared off at the end.  Crows are members of the corvid family which includes magpies, blue jays and  ravens. Crows are generally smaller and not as thick-billed as ravens, which belong to the same genus. Crows can be found worldwide.

These noisy birds live throughout North America in summer, except for the extreme north and very deep south. In winter, they vacate the colder regions, ranging throughout the United States, southern British Columbia and Atlantic Canada. They are common in both urban and rural areas, taking advantage of both road kill and garbage. If you see a large black bird, about 48cm (19in) long, especially in the city, it is probably an American Crow.  When they molt, the old feathers can appear brownish or scaly compared to the glossy new feathers.

These highly intelligent birds can be masterful mimics and great problem solvers. Crows have loud, hoarse, cawing voices.  The crow is now considered to be among the world's most intelligent animals.

Crows are very social, always found in flocks and are rarely found alone. Living in large, close-knit families, and like social mammals, they not only hunt and forage together but also defend territories and care for the young together. Common sights in treetops, fields, and roadsides, and in habitats ranging from open woods and empty beaches to town centers.

American Crows usually feed on the ground and eat almost anything – typically earthworms, insects, other small animals, seeds, fruit, garbage, carrion and chicks they rob from nests. Their flight style is a unique pattern of methodical flapping, that is rarely broken up with glides.

They’re also aggressive and often chase away larger birds including hawks, owls and herons.

Commonly found in fields, open woodlands, and forests. They thrive around people, and you’ll often find them in agricultural fields, lawns, parking lots, athletic fields, roadsides, towns and city garbage dumps.

Crows generally lay from 3 to 7 eggs, with 4 or 5 being the most common number. The coloration and pigment pattern of the eggs can vary widely even within a single clutch. Eggs may be bluish-green to pale olive and variously marked with brown and gray and can vary from almost unmarked sky blue, to very heavily blotched or spotted dark green.  Young crows may spend up to six years with their parents before breeding on their own. As winter approaches, northern crows gather into large night-roosting groups. These flocks can include tens of thousands of birds and occasionally hundreds of thousands. Possible reasons for this seasonal gregariousness are warmth, protection against predators such as owls, or information exchange. A crow may live 13 years in the wild and more than 20 years in captivity.

The crow was sacred for the Celts and meant the flesh torn by fighting.  The major meaning of this black bird is to be a guide and the Gods' messenger.
In Celt Lore the belief was that Crow was an omen of death and conflict. Crows were associated with death transitions. Another belief was that the birds were faeries who shape-shifted to cause troubles. Magickal qualities included bringing knowledge, shape-shifting, eloquence, prophecy, boldness, skill, knowledge, cunning, trickery and thievery.

In the Middle Ages, people believed that sorcerers and witches used the symbol of Crow’s foot to cast death spells.

In Irish mythology, crows are associated with Morrigan, the goddess of war and death. The god Bran the Blessed, whose names means 'crow' or 'raven' is associated with corvids and death. His severed head is said to be buried under the Tower of London facing toward France, a possible origin for the keeping of ravens in the Tower, which are said to protect the fortunes of Britain. In Cornish folklore crows and particularly magpies are again associated with death and the 'otherworld', and must always be greeted with respect. The origin of 'counting crows' as augury is British; however the British versions rather count magpies - their black and white pied coloring reflecting the realms of both the living and the dead.

So we can say that the crow is a creator, a guide and a divine messenger. Guiding souls through their last travel and goes through the darkness without moving away from the road.

1 comment:

  1. That was really complete and reminded me of a few things I had read but since forgotten. Thanks so much!