Crow O’Clock

  • Every evening around 4pm, the cawing begins. Adam will make his way inside and say, “the birds are back.” If you look outside, you’ll see hundreds of crows perched on the limbs of our neighborhood oak and maple trees. They’re loud, abundant, and creepy as hell. Have you noticed a similar congregation in your neighborhood? Apparently this is a very common phenomenon in the fall and winter months. Yes, I have consulted with my friends at Google and researched the topic. In non-breeding months, crows have a common roosting place and will gather beforehand in a place nearby. Often they will find an area with lots of trees which is why many urban areas are noticing an influx of crows. Established neighborhoods usually have large, mature trees which makes it easy for the birds to gather and socialize. There are many theories as to why they meet up this way to roost. The most likely reason is just strength in numbers defending against potential predators. I’ve been thinking quite a lot about these crows because it bothers me that they bother me so much. (Make sense?) As you know, I love birdwatching. I love my little chickadee and finch friends. I get a tiny bit giddy when I see a northern cardinal at the bird feeder. Why is it that these crows freak me out? Am I bird racist? Am I guilty of birdwatching discrimination? What a terrible offense and what does this say about me as a person!?! I have been pondering this for several weeks, months even. In October, there was a large group of starlings that were conducting regular meetings in my backyard. After researching those birds, I found that they really enjoy eating grubs so I gave them an uneasy pass. Admittedly, I did chase them away when they attempted to dine at my bird feeder. I’m clearly not an equal opportunity bird lover.

    This is not an original observation. Crows and ravens have been written about throughout literature. Poets and writers have definitely aided in giving the crow its ominous reputation. Did you know that a group or collection of crows is called a “murder?” Not a flock or a gaggle, but a murder! If I see one or two crows, no biggie. I think it’s the collection of crows that makes me uneasy. On a grey winter evening, it’s disturbing to see the bare limbs of oak trees draped in black crows. It’s really no wonder that this image has inspired folklore and tales of death.

    I’ve been watching this scene unfold almost daily this month. I’ve wondered what they’re cawing about. It’s been said that crows are extremely intelligent. They travel quite a distance to meet up at the exact same time every evening. This is sort of fascinating. It’s like happy hour for birds or a book club. Or maybe they’re all just yelling at each other to shut up. “You shut up!” “No, you shut up!” Anyhow, it’s just one of those mysteries in nature. Many people will go about their days and not give this topic any thought. I am thankful that I am not one of those people. While I do not enjoy the company of crows, I do enjoy the fact that I have noticed them. There are so many patterns in nature that go completely overlooked. I used to be so preoccupied that I paid nature no attention. Now I find myself marking time with these patterns. I know when the chickadees will come by for breakfast. I know when to expect the finches for their afternoon snack. And during these cold winter months, I’m well aware of crow o’clock- 4pm on the caw.


    January 27th, 2012 | girl has thyme | 3 Comments |

3 Responses and Counting...

  • Emily 01.27.2012

    I’ve noticed it in the NW too, you’ll be driving down the freeway and 100’s of crows will be flying in one direction – so weird. You crack me up with being bothered by letting them bother you. 🙂

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  • jenny, again a great post. you’re a wonderful writer! always lots to enjoy in what you write. the movie, the birds, was creepy. double dated to see it, stayed at my friend’s home and that nite we kept hearing scratching noises–next morning there was a dead crow on the porch–always wondered if our dates did the noise and crow to spook us!

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  • Wow- very interesting. I often overlook nature patterns, in fact I rarely acknowledge them. I would love to pay more attention and be able to correlate the timing of birds coming around my backyard as you have done. Very cool!

    [Reply]

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