05 August 2010

A "Murder" Of Crows - There's A Reason For The Label

This morning, while taking a break sitting under a shade-tree in my (Green Retro Tubular Lawn Chair - Some Assembly Required) and thinking about the things I want to accomplish today and  watching the Ruby-Throat humming birds joust with each other and dodge wasps for feeding rights, I heard in the distance the raucous caws of a raiding party of crows.  "Aha", I thought, "There is a reason a bunch of crows is called a "murder"!

If you get a chance sometime, watch them as they go about visiting carnage and havoc on the settlements of other birds.  Crows, which nest in flocks up to a thousand or more, send out smaller patrols up to fifty miles in their daily search for food.  While on patrol, they operate with the precision and skill of a highly-trained military unit.  They send out advance recon birds, post sentries, forward observers, flank and rear security, and look-outs and strike en-masse with force quickly establishing dominance and control.  They are avian warriors and unremitting with the strength and persistence of their attacks.  Aside from humans, hawks and owls are their only predators, and even these, for the most part, give crows a very wide berth unless they can find a single, inexperienced youngster away from the flock. 

In additional to their highly refined attack operations they have a extremely well evolved social structure including constant, 24/7,  look-outs, and non-mated "aunts" who serve the flock as "baby sitters" and senior "bachelor uncles" who help in the rigorous training of fledglings. And don't think for a minute that their caws are merely random--most experts agree that they employ a rich, varied, and effective "language" of nuanced communication.

They are believed to be the most intelligent of the birds and are readily adaptable to most any situation or climate excepting arctic areas.  Crows are non-secretive to the point of arrogant defiance, and, can be very dangerous if an unwary animal or person strays into their roosting grounds.  They will "attack" humans in such situations.

Even though they mate and bond for life, crows (females in particular) tend to be as wildly promiscuous as Bonobos.  Their sexual cavorting, even with other family members, would be enough to cause a god of Greek Mythology to blush.

Once hunted, poisoned, and otherwise scourged by farmers crows are now a "protected" species.

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