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Crow Influx
updated: Jul 02, 2014, 9:23 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

For the first time in the five years that I have lived in the N. Patterson/University area, the neighborhood has been invaded by crows. They are feasting on carrotwood berries. The berries were just as plentiful last year, but there were never any crows around. Has something significant occurred with the local bird population or is this just a normal fluctuation?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 532219P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 09:38 AM

They seem to move around. Several years ago, we had tons of crows making a huge racket every morning in our neighborhood. Then they were gone. This spring saw them return for a short time and now they are gone again. I'm pretty sure they travel in groups, so there tend to be many in one place.

Although the noise is pretty irritating, they are very "smart" birds and kind of fascinating to watch.


 COMMENT 532220 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 09:38 AM

Lack of water could have changed some of their food sources. That said we had a murder of crows hanging around for a week or two one year never to be seen again.


 COMMENT 532221 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 09:42 AM

Enjoy these intelligent birds.


 COMMENT 532222 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 09:43 AM

It's a murder, OP. A group of crows is called a murder.


 COMMENT 532223 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 09:46 AM

The crows have always been a major problem on the Westside. It then got worse when a local do-gooder began FEEDING them, attracting even more of the feathered disciples of Satan.

Yeah, yeah, I know--crows are smart, well-colonized, sociable, like to watch PBS, give to the United Way and are the bestest bird species in the history of the world, but that is immediately negated when they crap in massive numbers all over your car, squawk their guts out in a volume that can out-racket a Harley, and terrorize and kill finches and other smaller birds.

Too bad someone can't come up with a tasty recipe involving crows.


 COMMENT 532227 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 09:53 AM

Love them.


 COMMENT 532229 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:03 AM

REX, crows also read Edhat... and now they're really going to be watching you! ;)


 RED CREEK agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:08 AM

When the predators are strong in our neighborhood (hawks, coyotes, bobcats, owls) the crows move on to safer and tastier locations. They know when they are going to be dinner, just as they know how to make other species dinner.


 COMMENT 532233 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:11 AM

Those darn squaking crows wake me up in the early AM. Where's my shotgun! Just wishful thinking don't live in the backwater.


 COMMENT 532234 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:11 AM

Love to call a group of crows of a murder! But group is also correct and probably more common for those of us that don't read olde English and Chaucer in the original venacular.

The crows were in my neighborhood (Chino and Eucalyptus) but have moved on. There were death on the nestlings being raised by the mockingbirds while they were there. The parents were constantly defending them.


 COMMENT 532235 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:15 AM

Oh great, here we go again with the whole "it's called a murder, you idiots."
Got it. Murder.

At any rate, I LOVE the crows! Love them! Something kind of creepy and sinister and a little scary about them. And I love that.


 COMMENT 532237 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:19 AM

Are these crows smart or intelligent?


 COMMENT 532238 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:22 AM

If I remember my television correctly, step 1 is to import some Bolivian tree lizards.


 COMMENT 532241 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:29 AM

I think that it is a natural fluctuation. Crows tend to travel (en masse, since they are communal), to wherever there is a plentiful source of food. Once a food source is no longer viable nearby they will move to a better spot. In some more rural areas that I have lived in other parts of California, the Crow flock (THOUSANDS OF THEM) would be out in the fields surrounding town for summer and fall, and then they would move to town for winter and spring, following where they saw to be more food. Perhaps someone cut down a few trees or plowed under a food source that they are replacing with the berries in your neighborhood.

They are fun to watch and have very good memories and facial recognition, so if you don't like them, i advise you to not let them know it! ;)


 COMMENT 532243 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:39 AM

I'd like to have one as a pet. If you raise a crow do you think they will they stick around are fly away?


 COMMENT 532248 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:47 AM

@222: English has several collective nouns for crows, actually.

Murder, Horde, Parcel, Storytelling

I prefer NOT to use the word "murder" anymore. The term stems from a folktale belief that crows will group together to decide the fate of another crow.

Crows are intelligent birds who care for each other and their offspring. I'll not denigrate them further by using that particular word to describe a group of them.

@234: Geoffrey Chaucer almost certainly did not use any collective nouns in his texts. They weren't well used at his point of history. Indeed, Saint Albans had only collected 165 of them by the time he wrote on the topic in 1465 (Chaucer died 65 years earlier).


 COMMENT 532249 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:47 AM

I once had a neighbor who caught a crow when it was young and tamed it - not only did the bird continue to inhabit his yard un-caged, it mimicked human speech as well as any parrot I've ever seen. Crows are truly remarkable animals!


 COMMENT 532251P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:51 AM

Crows gather together to morn the death of another crow not to kill him/her.


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 10:58 AM

Very good 229..I was reading a book by Margaret Millar a few years back in the back yard. Margaret was a bird watcher. The crows were above me in the pecan tree and was dropping things on my head I thought one of them was Margaret reincarnated when one of them dropped a pack of Big Red gum on my head..


 COMMENT 532254 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 11:00 AM

They are in my neighborhood all the time and I HATE them!

They make tons of noise that cause my bird to scream constantly, they crap all over everything, and drop nuts and fruits all over my yard, some of which grow into invasive plants I don't want in the yard (a walnut tree growing under another tree is not desired).

I usually just chase them away when I can, but not when they are in the neighbors trees and still cawing like mad. I wish I could make them avoid my area permanently.


 COMMENT 532257 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 11:05 AM

REX: The term "eat crow" didn't come out of nowhere. Ever been to Kentucky? It's on the menu. Right next to possum.

You're welcome. :)


 COMMENT 532260 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 11:07 AM

Crows eat a wide variety of things, including animals. They can sense when an animal is dying and will gather like vultures waiting for the feast. Could be that there is a skunk or possum in your area whose time is near.


 COMMENT 532268 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 11:31 AM

Put that GIANT Tiger in your tree and the crows, all birds for that matter, will find a new place to hang out. Worked for a friend of mine.


 COMMENT 532270 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 11:32 AM

Sorry, correction..... stuffed Tiger, or ANY GIANT stuffed predator will work


 COMMENT 532271P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 11:35 AM

Better watch yourselves..... Crows have facial recognition abilities. They will know your face, if you harm them. And, same if you give them food, they will bring you shiny objects


 COMMENT 532272P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 11:36 AM

The Crows have scared-off all the hummingbirds that used to hang out at my place. Very disappointed about that. They also scared-off the Scrub Jays.


 COMMENT 532273P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 11:40 AM

Eating crow is an American colloquial idiom,[1] meaning humiliation by admitting wrongness or having been proved wrong after taking a strong position.[2] Crow is presumably foul-tasting in the same way that being proved wrong might be emotionally hard to swallow.[2] The exact origin of the idiom is unknown, but it probably began with an American story published around 1850 about a slow-witted New York farmer.[3] Eating crow is of a family of idioms having to do with eating and being proved incorrect, such as to "eat dirt" and to "eat your hat" (or shoe), all probably originating from "to eat one's words", which first appears in print in 1571 in one of John Calvin's tracts, on Psalm 62: “God eateth not his words when he hath once spoken”.[2]



 COMMENT 532277 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 11:58 AM

Hawks go for the Crow's nests to get the egg's, I've never seen Crows chased off by Hawks, the reverse is more often true. The Crows will gang up on the Hawks and chase them away.


 COMMENT 532282 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 12:19 PM

It is against Fed law to own a crow without a license.


 COMMENT 532283 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 12:21 PM

Hey Rex, I feed crows. I give money to homeless. I also feed my two black cats.


 COMMENT 532286 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 12:33 PM

273: Yeah, I am well aware that "eating crow" is a colloquialism, and well aware of its origins. But thanks for the refresher course. fyi My message was in jest.

That said... how would anyone know that crow is foul-tasting unless that had tasted it? Hence "eating crow."

I stand by my advice to visit Kentucky.


 COMMENT 532289 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 12:39 PM

REX... I thought you were describing humans there for a second, not crows. Oh wait... humans are worse, except the part about messing up your car - or maybe not even that.


 COMMENT 532299 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 01:36 PM

They are in your neighborhood because more willing people scared them out of their neighborhoods. They will eventually reside in the most apathetic and/or tree hugger part of town until those people realize they are rats with wings.


 COMMENT 532309 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 02:12 PM

pigeons have first claim to being "rats with wings".

crows are a far more interesting bird....


 COMMENT 532311 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 02:17 PM

@282 - How do you know if the crow has a license or doesn't have a license?


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 03:25 PM

My mom raised a baby crow, Edgar, he made a great pet. He'd land on top of her car when she was about 3 blocks from home; she'd know he as there when other drivers stared. Once Mom was at a barbeque in Manning Park and Edgar landed on her shoulder. "The Birds" had just come out and people sort of freaked.


 COMMENT 532361P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 04:38 PM

In the spirit of 248, and becsause I love language, this is Old English, the language of the Anglo-Saxons. (Beowulf was written in this language; Tolkien taught it for decades and his translation was recently published):
HWÆT, we gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!
oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,

And this is Middle English (post-Norman Invasion of 1066) Chaucer's language, which is fun! dirty jokes and all. Quotes (you can see how understandable it is:)
''And therfore, at the kynges court, my brother,
Ech man for hymself, ther is noon oother.''

''What is this world? what asketh men to have?
Now with his love, now in his colde grave
Allone, withouten any compaignye.''

''This world nys but a thurghfare ful of wo,
And we been pilgrymes, passynge to and fro;
Deeth is an ende of every worldly soore.''

''Experience, though noon auctoritee
Were in this world, were right ynogh to me
To speke of wo that is in mariage.''

Interlinear translation shows it's not much different from Shakespeare and even modern English. http://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/teachslf/gp-par.htm


 COMMENT 532366P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 04:45 PM

361 here. Crows do fluctuate a lot in my neighborhood. I live across the street from a favored look-out and roosting tree. Crows have roosted in it and a raptor/hawk has had a nest in it. That season the raptor won. Hawks and crows have fought over it for years. Haven't had a crow population in years, but in the past few, maybe more than 2 months, have been occasionally woken by them. The scrub jay, however, is like a parrot, he's my regular wake up call.


 COMMENT 532389P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 06:14 PM

REX. I wish you didn't feel that way about crows. "Feathered disciples of Satan" is just sad. Ouch. My respectometer registers you at a 3 now. Was at 8.


 COMMENT 532393 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 06:34 PM

Feathered Disciples of Satan sounds like a great name for a band!
And right on, 309.


 COMMENT 532407 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 08:29 PM

Rex, I'm with you 100%! (Although after watching the PBS special on crows I dislike them a little less.)


 COMMENT 532412 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 08:51 PM

@389P: How about "scions of Satan" then? I try to coexist with most critters (except snakes), but crows seem . to be the true gangstas of the avian world. As I said earler, I'll acknowledge that crows are smart, but I can't think of one constructive or nice thing they do. They kill other birds, they divebomb and terrorize small animals, their racket is anything but pleasant to listen to, and they even LOOK evil.

That said, I'd never try to harm a crow...but if I saw one choking on a freshly killed hummingbird, I certainly wouldn't give it mouth-to-beak resuscitation.


 WOODRUFF agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-02 11:43 PM

During the breeding season, crows are very territorial, and you will see only two to four birds guarding, let's say, your back yard. But once the year's babies are fledged, around the end of June, crows become more group oriented, and you see them again in large flocks rather than as small family units.

I also have noted that this year the large groupings seem to be appearing quite early. If I had to guess--and it is only a guess--the year has been stressful in terms of little water and not much food. I think they are pooling their resources by getting just one baby or two into the air, and then relying on the community to be successful for the sake of the crow nation, rather than individual family units,

Back in the day, before it was illegal, we did raise an orphaned baby crow to adulthood, and I came to believe that an ordinary young crow had the brain power of a two year old child.

That might not sound so impressive, but for those of you who are parents, do you think a two year old human child could rule the universe?



 COMMENT 532435P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-03 12:31 AM

Applause, Woodruff. A long ago neighbor had a crow fledge in her front yard. She put out a dog crate and some water. Yeah, she had another fledgling the next year, and the next. I've lost touch now though. Great to watch, and the parents were not raucous, but ... parental.


 COMMENT 532436P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-03 12:34 AM

Search YouTube for "crows using tools" Amazing. 2 year old? oh yeah.


 COMMENT 532440 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-03 06:08 AM

I'm just happy the green to concrete ratio in SB is such that we host one of the most diverse bird populations of any urban area! I used to have a massive Walnut tree, the crows would drop the nuts mid-flight in order to crack them. Very clever though the nuts hitting the roof was pretty obnoxious. ...but worth it! can't imagine life without birds! : >


 COMMENT 532454 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-03 07:46 AM

@LALALALA: Yeah, especially Thanksgiving!


 COMMENT 532475 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-03 09:25 AM

Personally, I dislike crows. Granted they are intelligent but they are bullies. They raid smaller bird nests, eating eggs and fledgelings. They attack hawks and yes, I know, the hawks retaliate but I prefer the hawks for their hunting rodents.
A murder of crows is a fearsome thing when they are after something. Last spring they found a small flightless hawk and were 'bombing' it and trying to kill it. Crows all seem to have a "memory" of guns and will scare off when shown a gun, even a squirt gun. No need to use it, just wave it in the air and off they go. I have dispersed many of them in this way and now they choose to congregate elsewhere.


 COMMENT 532478P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-03 09:29 AM

I love and respect the crows, and love Native American crow lore.....here's a favorite: "Crow calls to awaken you to your true soul purpose...to remind you to follow your heart."


 COMMENT 532541 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-03 11:42 AM

It would be a far better wildlife world if the crows no longer existed!!


 COMMENT 532579P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-03 01:41 PM

We were strolling the upper-north area of Ellings Park one afternoon when a commotion of crows drew our eyes to the sky. A kestrel was being harassed by the noisy crows, and trying to avoid their attacks. As we watched, the kestrel had enough and began attacking every crow that came within range, producing puffs of black feathers. In the space of a minute, the crows decided to find other entertainment.

We watched the kestrel resume hovering observation of the gophers far below. But then the kestrel began to dodge attacks from some invisible enemy, and flew away just as we raised binoculars and noted the lone hummingbird hovering triumphantly where the kestrel had briefly reigned.


 COMMENT 532635 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-03 07:34 PM

How 'bout a fluctuating flux of crows?


 ACF agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-03 10:51 PM

Thanks all for an interesting, fun discussion! And thanks to the contributor who posted Old and Middle English. By the way, I live in Mission Canyon and we have two murders of crows this year. They are driving us nuts, but I respect their intelligence.


 SBSLOTH agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-05 11:12 PM

Jbird, hawks do not eat eggs. Hawks eat live (moving) prey. Crows, on the other hand, will rob nests of eggs and young birds. The crows do likje to gang up and try to chase off owls and hawks that are flying or perching in "their" neighborhood.


 COMMENT 561322 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-10-15 06:37 AM

Having returned to SB after two years the amount of small birds appears to have decreased.

Crows are known to raid the nests of birds...


What are others experience with my observation?


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