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Something to crow about...

Every March, my husband and I note the return of a small flock of crows to our home High Point in Grand Blanc. They are always only three or four crows and being a curious sort I decided to take this morning to delve into Arthur Cleveland Bent's account of the life history of this bird to learn why.  I have the former Genesee County Audubon Society's past president and friend, Sharon Johnson, to thank for first informing me about this fine series of publications that include detailed information on behavior, nesting habits, migration, food choices and more on nearly every species of North American bird. Sharon told me about A. C. Bent's books back in 1992; it took me about six years to compile the 22 books in the series -- many of which are now out of print.

a study of crows....or, a crow studyIn The Dictionary of American Bird Names, the name crow comes from an early interpretation of one of the bird's calls, "Caw".  From the name crow we have derived expressions such as "crow's feet", or "as straight as the crow flies" (referring the crow's habit of flying straight to its roost at night), and "nothing to crow about".

Crows have always been quite controversial and they were once heavily hunted. They are now protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and in spite of the previous attempts to eliminate crows they remain widespread and are considered common. I did find reference regarding the behavior we observe in A.C. Bent's section on the American crow.  Since we do not observe any of the typical courtship behavior such as head bobbing, aerial gyrations or chasing the group of three and four birds that we are seeing in March are most probably males who are simply "milling about".  They are here only a few weeks and then they disappear to areas more suitable for nesting that includes thick forests of pines.

If you would like to read the full and very interesting account about the American crow published in A. C, Bent's Life Histories of North American Birds visit this website: http://birdsbybent.netfirms.com/ch81-90/amercrow.html

Louise Dawson
on behalf of the the Naturalists at J.J. Cardinal’s
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