CLOWN OF THE SKY
by Colleen Fliedner
The poor crow is the most misunderstood and under-rated of all our feathered friends. He’s not noble, like the Eagle. Nor is he equated with love or peace, like the venerable dove. He certainly doesn’t have the beautiful plumage of a Cardinal or multi-colored parrot. And no one has ever considered attaching a message to a crow’s leg like the dependable homing pigeon.
In fact, most people consider the crow to be nothing more than a pesky chatterbox; or even worse, a mysterious, malevolent creature associated with witches and wizards. Most experts believe that crows are the most intelligent, highly evolved of all birds. Crows are monogamous creatures, staying with a mate until death. Couples are usually seen sitting together, affectionately caressing and preening one another. And when one of the pair dies, the other usually dies of grief within a short time.
With an average wing span of between two and four feet, the crow is the most powerful of the perching birds. Generally dining on berries, insects, seeds and grains, a crow will eat just about anything – from the Big Mac smashed in the road, to the new lawn seeds you’ve just planted. For obvious reasons, these scavengers are hated by farmers. But large farm animals will actually solicit the crows’ attention. As the insect-covered beast relaxes, the accommodating crows pick the juicy bugs from the animal’s body; a symbiotic, win-win situation for both creatures, to be sure.
Crows are intensely playful, often teasing other animals and even imitating various sounds, including barking dogs and other birds. Oftentimes, the black-feathered avians dance around on the ground just for the fun of it. Young crows can make great pets, rolling on their backs to juggle an object with their feet or playing tug-of-war. Able to mimic sounds, they can be taught to say a few words.
Most surprising is that, technically speaking, the crow is a songbird. However, the sounds that emanate from the throats of the big black birds are anything but pleasing to the human ear. Still, the next time you’re annoyed by the incessant caw of a crow, remember that beneath that layer of iridescent black feathers lies the heart of a clown.