Crows (Corvus Cornix)

Intelligent Tricksters Who Keeps the Neighborhood in Order!

The crow (crowbirds) is one of the most common birds we come across. Some love them while some others loathe them. What is certain is that it is a very smart animal that remembers when people misbehave with them. It’s even so bad that they pass on the information for generations, which can lead to some problems for the one who gets fucked by a crow! One thing is for sure, you don’t want these inventive, mischievous and highly intelligent birds against you!

This article focuses more on the Nordic gray crow, which is very uncommon in the rest of the world! It’s brother, the black crow is the closest relative and much of the information applies to both.

About the Crow

crow looking at the camera

It has a black head, bill, legs and wings, as well as upper thorax and tail feathers. The rest of the gray crow is gray! The gray crow, just like the raven, has a very special shape on its head that is easily recognisable. The beak sits as an extension of the head and looks very “streamlined”. At the front of the beak, it curves slightly downwards. It’s no wonder that the crows’ beautiful and proud forms have given rise to many symbols and icons over the years!

Our Scandinavian gray crow is around 50 cm long with a wingspan of 84-100 cm. A full-grown gray crow weighs around half a kilo.

The life of the crow

Just like crows in general, the gray crow is a very intelligent animal. They are very good at solving problems and some consider them in the same class as the smartest from the ape world. They can also recognize faces and have been found to be self-aware.

The crows also have a great sense of humor! For example, they are very fond of pulling the tails of other animals, such as dogs, cats, rats and others who happen to have some protruding body parts.

It is also one of the few animals that can use two-step tools. These are tools that are therefore manufactured in two stages. A similar example for us humans in a bushcraft context would be using a knife to make a mallet to help knock down tent pegs, etc.

Lives in pairs or small groups

Crows normally live in pairs or in small groups with the same individuals throughout their lives. People help each other in the group to raise and get food for the little crows that are born. They often live in an established area which they are helped to guard against intruders.

murder of crows
A group of crows, also called a “murder of crows”. Photo by Shepal Bhansali

Crows and Humans

To our Norse mythology, crows have had a very central role. Odin’s two main sources of information are the two ravens Hugin and Munin who fly around the world and listen and spy on everything and everyone. They then fly back to Odin and whisper in his ear about the doings and events of the world. Hugin and Munin also mean “Mind” and “Memory”. This has led to ravens and crows becoming one of the most depicted animals in our history.

Our view of the crow

The crow is seen by many as a pest and as unwelcome in environments where people live. According to some, they destroy flower gardens, dig up plants and root around in the soil. While this is true to some extent, the underlying problem is probably that some people take themselves and their flower pots far too seriously!

One thing that most people don’t know about corvids is that they are extremely useful and important in maintaining the ecosystem. For example, they compete with rats and other purely cultivated pests for different types of food. This means that it is in the crows’ interest to keep the rat population in check, which they also do to a certain extent.

They’re also a natural friend of our dear little songbirds. The crows are not particularly interested in small birds and their eggs as dinner, although it certainly happens sometimes. More importantly, the crows help keep the small birds’ predators at bay. Both birds of prey, cats and others get to taste the claws and beaks of the crows if they venture too close to their nests.

The crow and other birds

Seagulls are one of the crows’ main competitors, at least where I live. The corvids (crows, jays, magpies, rooks, etc.) usually stick together in loosely composed groups that help each other if they are faced with a gang of seagulls that threatens order in the area. Among themselves, however, there is a clear hierarchy where the crows disturb at the top and act a bit like a general on the feathered battlefield. Next come the magpies who are good at working together and chase the seagulls away.

Then it is a bit unclear who is under it, the rakes are big and strong but don’t seem to be too divisive. They tend to walk around and not really add anything. They also spend a lot of time with the quays in the area, which seems natural as the quays’ strongest weapon is their numbers. This alliance rarely has much trouble establishing control over the area if it turns out that a bunch of seagulls have attempted a hit and run! The crows as the tacticians and leaders, the magpies as the special forces and then the rooks and quays as a meat grinder consisting of both small fast and larger more impactful units!

CROWS “Troll” the Cat, the Dog, the Eagle, the Bear and even the Wolf! – YouTube

Crows and wolves

As we looked at in the article about the wolf, like-minded people are drawn to each other. Crows are smart, just like wolves. They live in distinct constellations, just like wolves. They hunt and defend themselves in groups with clear tactics and technique, just like wolves.

Personal anecdotes

In the neighborhood where I live, there are a bunch of crows that hang out. They have quite recently received an increase from having previously been a couple or three. During the warmer months when it is more comfortable to sit on the balcony and spy on our winged friends, you can usually get some interesting performances.

The mystery of the uprooted flower farm

During the summer we had a company that planted some new flower arrangements around the block. There was a young girl who planted and kept going and did a really good job! The problem was that the morning after she finished, there were uprooted flowers all over the street and around the place where the arrangement was. The customer stood and watched the devastation after the night’s ravages together with the flower girl. I don’t know what they agreed on but she tried to save the flowers that could be saved and made everything look nice again.

Sometime that afternoon, a young crow appeared and began to pull and tear at the flowers. The girl must have packed the soil harder this time, because the crow only picked up a couple of flowers with roots, which it happily dropped on the car roofs nearby!

However, everything ended well with the crows getting tired and the flower arrangement had to remain!

Nut-throwing crows target the neighborhood’s children

It is common knowledge that crows use various tools and implements to obtain food. In the eyes of the crows, even an asphalted road is a tool! Drop a nut from a height and the shell will crack when it hits the ground and the goodies will fall out!

crow with a nut
Who threw the nut?! Photo by mariananistor35, Pixabay

I’ve seen the crows in the neighborhood do just this, but it seems that sometimes they actively try to hit passers-by. Specifically, the children of the neighborhood! Several times there have been children on or near the road with no one else around when a dark shadow appears right overhead and releases a projectile!

A loud bang right next to the child who jumps and the crow watches the spectacle below from its elevated position on a lamp post!

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