Crow’s Feet

We’ve been getting so much snow lately. Every few days there is another snow storm that piles on extra snow. This is an observation, not a complaint. I am very happy to have it. The soil is blanketed, and the plants below have protection from the cold. The new snow covers all the old snow and gives us a fresh canvas to dream on. There are different animal prints to consider. I saw a line of coyote prints moving through my front yard, and to think I was just musing on that last week. How I am always looking out my window in the predawn glow hoping to see the moving shadow of a coyote slinking through the trees. And sure enough a coyote was there. I’m not dreaming these things. They are real.

Lately big flocks of crows have been hanging around. I have noticed they seem to gather in this imaginary line through the land–as the crows fly, so to speak. They run from my neighbor’s property, directly south of me, all the way north to neighboring farmland. They regularly gather and caw loudly on my hill, which is home to a few great old oaks and a pond. In the afternoon, it’s a nice and sunny place to gather. North of my property is a big open field primarily used for composting cow manure. I assume it is a relatively warm place, too, as the small mountains of manure steam during the cold months. It is surrounded by lower marshlands and a few snaking tributary streams that that run from several ponds, including my own. The train tracks cross through past there, and both crows and vultures seem to like sitting on the trees that look down on them.

I am fascinated by the crows, and I’m glad they are around. They are very loud, but for some reason I don’t mind their constant cawing and chattering. In fact, I find their sometimes strange sounds fascinating. I will admit that sometimes I try to “speak” to them. One time I was up on the ridge, watching two crows circle and pester a red-tailed hawk, making their guttural crow sounds as they did. I began to caw at them, and they were absolutely listening. I imagined they were thinking: blast this human, they ruin everything!

These days, I listen to the flocks on the hill from my house: the sounds are varied and sometimes surprising. I’ll think: was that really a crow? They are very wary, and if I come too close they’ll fly away en masse moving just enough to have a certain distance from me. After it snowed most recently, the hill had millions of little crow foot prints stitched on the surface. They were like hieroglyphics that showed their dancing moves– curious, impetuous steps. There were wing prints too, as they hop around they flap their wings leaving those long fingertip marks in the snow. It was like a short story written in crow’s feet.

Notes:

Is it murder? This article on names of groups of animals is amusing.

Corvid research. And check out the blog posts, like this most recent one on corvid consciousness.

Crows have extreme binocular vision.

  1. I smiled as soon as I saw your title and I loved reading this post. I, too, love having the crows around. The article about the collective names was hilarious, too!

  2. The wing prints are unreal! Love this whole post. My mom has always had a thing for crows (or corbys as she calls them affectionately) and it rubbed off on me. We watched a fascinating documentary about them a few years ago – how they use tools and are capable of complex reasoning.

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