Wild and Raucous! The Crow
Aug 03, 2015 10:00AM
● By Elena Hutslar
By Norma Bishop
You see and hear them everywhere—jostling each other in parks, strolling brazenly through mall parking lots, waking you in the morning—crows! The very word “raucous” sounds like a crow. Not just rowdy, however, they are among the most intelligent and intriguing of birds.
Some consider them pests: nuisances that chase other birds from feeders and sometimes prey on the young of other birds. And there are the literary references to “a murder of crows.” But, as the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology points out, crows are only one of a number of predators that may kill songbirds. (Feral and domestic cats are far more devastating songbird predators.)
At Lindsay Wildlife Experience, one of the nation’s oldest and largest wildlife rehabilitation hospitals, we’ve treated many crows this season. People who share a fondness for these personable creatures bring them in. As if we needed proof that wildlife is more in danger from humans than we from them, our first crow patient was a gunshot victim with a shattered wing. Most of the 179 crows brought in this season were found alongside a road and likely injured when struck by a car. (You may also have seen a car deliberately seem to swerve to hit a crow scavenging on the road.) Their injuries are most often broken wings and legs.
Unfortunately, only 44 of this season’s crow patients are likely to be successfully treated and released. Crows are difficult to treat, partly because they are so intelligent and social. Crows have been known to “hospice” sick or injured individual birds. Juveniles of the previous season frequently tend younger birds. Without the parenting and social nurturing of their own kind, young birds may become imprinted on human caretakers, further complicating their treatment and release.
The crow is a fascinating rapscallion, a creature that can make us pause, watch, and perhaps come to understand the complex world we share with him. In many ways, crows are like us—social, intelligent, playful, and predatory at times. Take time to observe them at play, using tools, socializing, and you’ll learn more about crows and, perhaps, yourself.
If you’d really like to be amazed by crows, read Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s Crow Planet. For more about other corvids (the corvidae family of crows, ravens, jays, and magpies) and the geniuses of the bird world, explore Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s website, www.birds.cornell.edu . If you’d like to help Lindsay save crows and other California wildlife, there are opportunities to volunteer and donate at www.lindsaywildlife.org.
(Please know it is illegal to make pets of crows or any native wild bird.)