The Crows Know

American Crow (photo by Brian Herman)
(photo by Brian Herman)

Monday 14 February 2011

On Saturday morning there was a mystery on my street.

Ten minutes before dawn a huge flock of crows flew over my neighborhood, then turned and wheeled over the ballfield, cawing loudly.

They were hard to see in the dark but they were easy to hear.  They circled several times outside my window.  It was so unusual that I reported them on PABIRDS.

At mid-morning I heard sirens.  Six police cars, a firetruck and an ambulance roared up my street to the ballfield.  The firemen carried their medical emergency kits to the bleachers, an area not visible from my side of the park.  Soon they returned and drove away.   The ambulance stayed longer but they left too without doing anything.

Meanwhile camera crews from all three TV news stations set up their equipment on the other side of the ballfield and pointed their cameras at the bleachers.  A plain white car arrived in front of my house and three people emerged, pulled on purple exam gloves, and walked toward the bleachers.

By now I had guessed that someone was dead.  I couldn’t stand the suspense so I got my 10-power binoculars and walked around the ballfield to the vicinity of the TV crews.

With binoculars I could see that there was indeed a body on the cement bleachers.  The police and detectives were taking pictures, checking the scene, examining, talking.  The body was on its back, upside down, crumpled over itself as if it had fallen head first from the sky.  It was in an unnatural position but its white face was up, easily seen from above in faint light.

So the sight of a crumpled body is why the crows wheeled and cawed.

The crows know.  They saw it first.  Now it’s up to the coroner and detectives to find out what happened.

p.s. Here and here are the news articles.  The death was ruled an accident or suicide.

(photo by Brian Herman)

11 thoughts on “The Crows Know

  1. maybe I’m imagining things but … there are a bunch of crows that hang around the edge of our parking lot at work. Last month as I got out of my car, the crows started cawing like mad. So I looked around to see if there was a hawk or something. Nope. I think they were freaking out because I was in a new car– small blue one versus the large silver one I had driven for 4 years.

    Can they really be that observant? I think so.

  2. Remember recent observations (and TV show) about crows recalling people who have done bad things to them? When I go someplace & crows start cawing, I wonder, what did I do to you that you are remembering?

  3. Wow, yah, I’ve been hearing about that on the news the past couple days. Did you tell the investigators about your observation of the crow behavior?

  4. No, I didn’t mention the crows. I didn’t think about it until the next day…and they would have thought I was nuts anyway.
    The investigators already have figured out a lot more than the crows knew. Latest news is “domestic dispute at home” and “climbed the fence” which happens to be 30 feet higher than where the body lay. So that explains how he fell from the sky.

  5. Since crows are so intelligent and observant, is that why groups of them are called a “murder”??? Perhaps they can help solve crimes……

  6. I was wondering if you might have seen something….Crows are very smart and notice everything. Think that would be creepy…do you watch CSI?

    My crows are busy ALL around the yard and couldn’t understand since I didn’t put food there, but the was another kind of “food” at least for them…from passing dogs, deer, and other animals…glad they find it before I tramp in it…Had a Crow by the feeders the other day and that’s what it was doing, cleaning up from our Lady dog…but was a day too late for me, since I found one of her dog bombs right under the snow….not good…

    I have noticed them in bigger flocks lately…over 50 the other day and about 25 this morning, before the weather changed to rain…They do know when I scatter seed at the end of the driveway…no matter what time of day I do it…so they do watch us…

  7. Scott Shalaway wrote an article for the P-G on 2-13-11 about the annual “backyard bird count” this Friday. This is the link as I copied it. If you can’t open it, I got it by going to the Post-Gazette site, and searching for Scott’s name.

    It also gave the site that you actually report your findings to.


    PS I forwarded the story of the osprey on the railroad signal arm to my brother, who lives in Jacksonville and works for CSX. He loved it!

  8. Crows know! They really are more intelligent than most people realize. They saw something out of place; they let you know. Spooky!

  9. I’ve had about 30 crows going mad outside next doors bedroom window in the trees going mad and flying about I lasted for about ten minutes I’ve never seen anything like it why do they do this?

    1. Margaret Evans, the crows probably found an owl in the tree and were mobbing it. The owl probably moved out of sight in a hollow of the tree & the crows eventually gave up.

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