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We long for fairytales in a world of nightmares – Natalia Crow







The crow is more often than not seen as a pest. This belief has a long history. For example, in Northern European mythologies birds such as crows and ravens and vultures – all carrion feeders – were symbols of war, death and misfortune. However, while it is true that crows are predators and scavengers, if you look closely at a crow and learn more about them, you cannot help but admire their beauty and intelligence.

Crows are highly social, curious and opportunistic. They have an exceptional long-term memory and pass on knowledge to other crows. For example, British crow expert Derek Goodwin surmises that crows learned to recognise and eat bread as food through testing it and the then passing on that knowledge through the ranks. Studies have shown that corvids and apes have similar cognitive ability. The intelligence of crows has long been known and feature prominently in folklore and mythology. For example, Aesop’s Fables tell the story of a thirsty crow that was able to get water from a pitcher that was out of its reach using stones to displace the water. Crows are also known to manufacture and use simple tools such as spikes and hooks to get food.

Crows are capable of complex vocal communication and may have basic language skills. They have a loud raspy signature call, a “caw” as well as a large range of sounds in addition to these calls. Crows can also imitate the calls of other birds and communicate using a wide variety of other sounds including clicks and bell-like notes. Like parrots, crows can be trained to talk.

Crows usually form flocks made up of mostly young unpaired birds and share a common roost site; usually a cluster of large trees. They can live to about 20 years old in the wild and twice as long in captivity. The larger species of Corvids are believed to mate for life unless a mate dies, but interestingly genetic analyses indicate that males only father about 80 percent of their offspring.