Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Murder of Crows Stay the Night

"A Murder of Crows" original illustration by Becky Kazana. Please do not reproduce without permission. 
Crows don't migrate like some birds, and there is a massive group of them circling in Minneapolis this winter. You can see them fluttering through the air like bits of singed paper, especially in the evenings at dusk. I've seen them roosting in different places- always in tall trees and often in loosely formed clusters, not too near one another, but most definitely in a group.

The other night as we were starting dinner, I noticed their calls outside the window and went to look out. Sure enough, they were all settling in the tall oak trees that line our street. These glossy black birds are so associated with Gothic literature and bad omens, (a group of crows is called a "murder" after all,) that it felt a little eerie. On the other hand, Eric loves to tell me how they are among the smartest animals on earth, able to solve complex problems, use tools and recognize and distinguish human faces. It's not their fault Edgar Allen Poe decided to immortalize one in a spooky poem.

Their acrid calls and awkward shuffling is rather endearing when you imagine them as a gaggle of cranky old men. They certainly were striking up there silhouetted in the tangle of branches as the sky darkened around them. In the morning, they were all gone, a spray of splintered branches on the sidewalk and snow the only evidence of their night spent on our street.

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