Monday, May 28, 2012
Crows are one of the most useful natural alarms systems I know. Crows live in social groups called murders and it doesn't take much imagination to understand why they got that label. They hunt cooperatively, covering a fairly broad area and keeping in touch with each other by vocalizing. What is just a "caw" to us is undoubedly loaded with meaning for them.
I pay attention to the crows maybe more than any other bird because they are the eyes and ears that will give me advance warning about some other interesting animal close by. They have tipped me off so many times when I probably would have missed seeing a barred owl or a red-tailed hawk or something else out of the ordinary.
They were extremely helpful in filming the red fox last spring that was routinely visiting our yard. They would tell me exactly where it was and where it was heading and whether I should get ready to film it. In fact, the first time I saw the fox, it was crows that brought it to my attention. The fox had caught a rabbit and took it down into the woods, but not so far that I couldn't see it. This was in the winter with snow on the ground, so there were no leaves to hide what was going on and the snow was reflecting a good amount of light despite it being cloudy. The fox stopped and was tossing the rabbit up into the air (it was already dead). The crows were in the trees above the fox, all making a din and telling it to get on with its meal so that they could scavenge what was left.
It is the same way at the river. I always look to see what they are fussing about. They coincidently brought a red fox to my attention there also. The crow pictured above may appear to be alone, but it is part of a larger flock that was on the hunt and was reporting back to the group what it had seen.