Counting Crows

Dear Reader:

In spite of adverse conditions yesterday (pretty much the norm these days) I ventured out for the first time to pick up some barbecue in Ridgeville to freeze and take to Pawleys this Thursday when the Ya’s have their mid-winter retreat! Hallelujah!

I am so ready for our gathering and chance to catch up with each other…mainly just to laugh and reminisce!

On the way home, bumping along the back country roads of Ridgeville, suddenly I was surrounded with black shadows. There was a light drizzle in the air and the temps were in the low forties…that bone-chilling cold. But I was sitting on my heated warm car seats (Love you Surcie!) (keeping my lower back warm and comfy)… and as happy as a clam…until I slammed on brakes and looked around me.

In the cold mist hundreds of crows had gathered…some paired off sitting next to each other on fences…hundreds walking together down dirt roads or gathered in large fields. I have never seen that many crows at one time.

*P.S. If you look carefully at the last photo above…a horse is standing at the end/ bend of the road staring at all the crows like…”What’s happening…What’s happening?” Were you invited here…I don’t think so!”

Crows do have a tendency to gather together during the winter months prior to mating season in March. Because crows are family-oriented (baby crows stay with their families for two years) they have a tendency to band together for protection, food-gathering, and just some plain old good gossip…they love to communicate…loudly!

In the past few decades, however, country crows have started becoming a thing of the past as the migration pattern seems to be changing to urban areas during the winter months. There are several reasons for this…scraps on sidewalks and open containers are more abundant and the asphalt cities hold heat better than the pastoral countryside…especially in the cold months and nights of winter.

(So apparently my sighting was more fortuitous than I imagined.)

Crows are considered to be the most intelligent and social of all birds and tend to mate for life, yet they’re often maligned as harbingers of evil or as a sign of death. (Unfortunately this idea originated from Hollywood, mainly Alfred Hitchcock, and his movie “The Birds” with the famous scene of black crows attacking school children.)

One of the most amusing things I learned about crows is that they choose their human friends by acts of kindness and they never forget a human face…good or bad…so it behooves one to be nice to crows…they do believe in revenge.

Example:

Dr. Kevin McGowan relates this piece of information:

McGowan has been banding and studying crows in his adopted hometown of Ithaca, New York for more than 30 years. He says crows are so smart they can remember a person’s face and learn to associate certain behaviors and sounds.

“I’ve got a number of families that know me pretty well because I toss ’em peanuts just as a snack type thing,” he says. “And they know when my garage door opens up. They know the sound of that and they’ll come over and they’ll chase my car down the street. And they come zipping across the street. It’s like wait, wait, wait, trying to catch up to the car.”

The bond between families of crows and even neighbors is especially strong in the American crow.

Juvenile crows are frequently seen defending their parents’ nest from predators. Other services they can provide include bringing food to mom and dad, or feeding their younger siblings directly.

One study found that 80 percent of American crow nests surveyed had a helping hand. And some birds become regular nest assistants, providing aid to their parents for over half a decade! (What a good son or daughter!) 🙂

… WHEN A CROW DIES, ITS NEIGHBORS MAY THROW A FUNERAL.

The sight of a dead crow tends to attract a mob of a  hundred or more  live ones. During this ritual, the live crows almost never touch the dead one, which rules scavenging out as a motive. Why do they do this? Some studies suggest that the mass gathering is part of a survival strategy: The birds are learning about threats and seem hesitant to revisit any spot where they’ve encountered a dead crow, even if food is plentiful there. Something caused their death…and that is where it happened…don’t go there!

So until tomorrow….Isn’t nature amazing? All God’s creatures can teach us humans a lesson on how to better humans...’Honor that father and mother.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

In spite of continued cold weather…Mother Nature won’t be stopped – the Japanese tulip trees are getting ready to put on their annual spectacular show, the camellias are bidding their time, and the Narcissus daffodils are starting to pop through.

Heard from Honey yesterday and look at her winter wonderland! The most beautiful yet I believe…so while I was counting crows Honey was counting inches…four and continuing!

Two weeks ago Honey fell and broke her hand…the same one she broke about 17 years ago…so you can only imagine what a trying few weeks these have been…she has had surgery and cast put on and would welcome all prayers that Monday when she returns to her surgeon he will, at least, be able to fit her into something smaller and more convenient than the cast she is presently in.

Honey…we all hope good news comes from your visit Monday…in fact hope Monday is a good day all around for everyone!!! Keep us updated!

*Oops…don’t forget…today is the first day of February! “Rabbit Rabbit, Rabbit!” Let’s pray for all of us to have an amazing February!

 

 

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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1 Response to Counting Crows

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Years ago at a convention I got to hear Jean Craighead George speak…she wrote Julie of the Wolves. She was an animal lover and knew so much about them…in fact she bonded with a pack of wolves before writing that book. In her presentation she talked about crows and shared the neatest story about one. I will tell you later but she said that they were very intelligent birds. We were at Hilton Head and one actually ate my hamburger when I walked away from my plate on the deck.

    Like

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