I Hear Crows

American Crow (photo by Chuck Tague)6:45am.  Sunrise was still 45 minutes away.  "I hear crows," said my husband.

I looked out the window, trying to see black birds in a dark sky.  I could hear it was a large flock just in front of our house, but I couldn't see them.

Then they turned.  I swear there were 300 crows.  The flock turned back on itself twice.  In the dark it looked like a black flapping ball.  And they were loud.

This was the vanguard flock, the first to leave the roost, the noisiest, and the one that looks as if it can't make up its mind where to go.  This indecision is probably true. 

The vanguard is made up of the cocky, the brave and the adventurous, some of whom are wise enough to know where there's a lot of food.  The wise ones want to get an early start at the good feeding grounds without a lot of competition.  The cocky follow them closely.  The flock wheels in the air while they all figure out where the lead birds are going and who's in the lead.

They flew southwest.  A pause.

Ten minutes later the sky is lighter and a noisy flock of a hundred crows flew over.  And then another.

Our house is in the flyway today.  If I'd been on my game this morning I could have been up and outdoors counting crows, trying to estimate the size of the winter roost.  But it's Saturday and I have too much to do. 

4 thoughts on “I Hear Crows

  1. Again, a great piece of writing. I have read the book, Crows and Ravens by Mazluff and Angells and see them as colorful and appealing, the bird world’s equivalent of the common man. Always glad to know a little more. Thank you for passing on your observations.

  2. Every morning on my drive to work, I stop at a traffic light at the intersection of Washington Blvd. and Frankstown Ave., and I hear literally thousands of crows perched in the trees above my car, or flying all about! One of these days, if there is enough light, I would like to take a picture of these noisy yet fine birds.

  3. Dear Kate,

    Lovely blog.

    I live in a place called Royston in Hertfordshire. Home of the Royston Crow – a rare crow with a grey hood. Needless to say much is made of this bird: our local newspaper is called the Royston Crow and there are many subtle references (which is nice) to crows around the town. We do have quite a lot of crows too, but they seem to be of the common variety and few people know about the the rare bird.

    Anyway, I really love one of the pics a crow that you have on this site and hope that you will not mind if I make a copy and use it on my web consultancy site (URL not ready yet). Please let me know if you mind and I’ll remove it before I publish it.

    Very best wishes and happy twitching (not sure if that’s an English term, but it’s one of endearment for people who have an obsessive passion for watching birds).

    Nik Dadson

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