Crows keep it real


Crows keep it real all day, all year. PHOTO: Sandy Harris, Creative Commons license

Springtime in northern Minnesota means all kinds of migratory birds make their annual through-trip. No one migratory bird reminds me of spring, however; rather I look to a bird that hangs around all year to tell me about spring: the crow.

Crows are starting to get busy this time of year. They’re louder, more insistent, build nests and gather into groups called “murders,” a moniker that says more about human perception of crows than it does about crows themselves.

I imagine that the animal world looks at us humans much the same way that we look at crows. We are not exactly beautiful, except to each other and especially ourselves. We are crafty, like crows; exploiting intelligence for what any other animal would call an unfair advantage if those other stupid animals were smart enough to even know what that meant. We have complicated relationships with our fellow crows, punctuated primarily by loud screeching sounds that seem meaningless to observers, but make total sense to us. I do believe I’ve already written about a favorite poem of mine, “The Language of Crows” by Louis Jenkins.

I read this morning in “Now I Know,” a daily trivia newsletter I strongly recommend, that of all Aesop’s ancient fables, only one was proven factually accurate: the story of the Crow and the Pitcher. Here we see that crows actually do have the intelligence to get a small amount of water out of a tall pitcher using pebbles to lift the liquid to the brim.

Smart. Loud. Always around. Busy come spring. Are crows like humans, or are we humans more like crows?

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