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Holding It All Together-As The Crow Flies

By Amy McCollom
October brings to mind many things; pumpkins, the taste of warm apple cider, cool weather, falling colorful leaves, sweaters, but also spooky decorations. Rats, bats, black cats, and pointy witch hats; silhouette cutouts taped to windows and school bulletin boards fill my memory. Ghost stories, spooky songs, and poems by Edgar Allen Poe, recited until we knew them by heart. Ravens, crows; they are cousins after all. Remember the movie “The Birds?”

If you are fearful of birds, then crows and ravens certainly have what it takes to appear ominous. Big pointy black beaks, all black feathers, unpleasant loud cawing! But are crows and ravens cursed evil birds sent to torment and kill, as movies, stories, and folklore have made them out to be? Let’s shine a light on some facts.

The American Crow is found all over the United States. It is all black from head to toe, about twice the size of a blue jay, and very clever. Sometimes it can be mischievous, tearing open garbage bags in search of food, as it mainly searches on the ground in populated areas. It can tend to be aggressive and has been known to chase away larger birds like hawks and owls from its food supply. Survival of the fittest, these birds are brave and not afraid to stand their ground. But I have never known any crows to actually kill anyone.

Crows are really, really smart birds. They have the reasoning skills of a seven-year old child. Researchers studying them reported that crows remember people’s faces for years. They are so highly intelligent that they make and use tools to solve complex problems, like getting food out of a container and placing nuts in the line of traffic to be crushed open. They are also very social, and verbal with a huge vocabulary and can often mimic not only voices but other animals’ sounds around them. They are fascinating.

How does the raven differ from the crow? The raven is twice the size of the crow. In flight, which is easier to tell the difference, the raven has about a 3 and a half to 4 feet wingspan and a diamond shaped tail feather shape. The crow in flight has about a 2 and a half feet wingspan and a smooth fan shaped tail feather. Besides, crows like to stay mostly on the ground, probably in parking lots, looking for dropped french fries, or at the park hanging out near the garbage cans or places like that. You might even say that crows are like Trash Bandits With Beaks. Share the love, leave a fry or two. Don’t be stingy.

Ravens eat more dead things, like the raccoon that didn’t make it across the highway, or bugs, or field mice. They also like the occasional morsel of fast food trash, but they are big birds and need a lot of food to keep themselves satisfied. They are in the air a lot more than crows.

I have noticed that the size of the crows and ravens I have seen these last few years have been getting bigger and bigger, and I wonder if it’s because of the amount of fast food or GMO’s in their diets now. Kids are getting bigger, our pets are getting obese, and now crows and ravens are getting larger and larger. Have you also noticed how many really big hawks there are flying around? I swear they look like pterodactyls!!! Well, if the crops are genetically modified, and field mice eat the crops, and birds eat those mice, then everything is getting genetically modified, I guess.

All this got me wondering how big of a bird would it take to lift up a human? I mean, pound for pound, what would it take? Could we someday use bird-power to get from place to place? It would be so much quicker, because, you know, “as the crow flies” (in a straight line) is always the shortest distance and would take the least amount of time. I wonder if Elon Musk would be interested in an idea like that? It wouldn’t take as much money as building a rocket ship, I’m sure. A modified hang-glider, some leather bird bracelets, and a bird trainer. They could try it with one of those little horse jockey’s first. They don’t weigh very much. It would probably only take two or three birds. Birds live a long time. You would get your money’s worth out of training them. And no noxious emissions as far as I know. It’s a win-win. 

If Gambian Pouched Rats can be trained to sniff out mines in Cambodia, and beagles can be trained to sniff out drugs and cash at major airports, then crows and ravens can be trained to fly routes while strapped to a hang-glider. I think God made the animals to be a help to us. In fact He brought each animal to Adam to see if it would be a good helper and to let Adam name it. That is why I believe we are to live in harmony with the animals and help each other. Here’s your french fries, Raven, now take me to Dallas.

Anyway, I said all of that to say this: Crows and ravens are cool birds. Don’t let them scare you, just because of Halloween and all that nonsense. You might be flying Air Raven someday. Stranger things have happened.

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