February 18, 2013

Although smart, crows can be a nuisance

At this time of year, there isn’t the wide variety of birds here in the North Country that we see during the spring, summer and fall.

Many have migrated to less-severe climes. One of the exceptions is the crow. I have noticed large flocks of them in trees, fields and along the roads and highways. We all recognize them by sight and by their familiar “caw.”

Crows belong in the corvid family, as do ravens, jays and magpies. They may be present in any area where they have access to food, shelter and enough trees that are suitable for nesting. They will eat whatever is available; insects, snails, fish, the eggs or nestlings of other birds, fruit, nuts, vegetables, garbage and carrion. While eating, one crow may act as a sentry to alert the others of any approaching threat.

In the evening, you may see hundreds of crows together in the tops of trees. As creepy as it may seem to those of us who have watched too many horror movies, the crows are actually grouping to sleep together, or roost. This phenomenon is not uncommon to some species of birds. It generally begins in the fall and becomes commonplace in the winter. It may have to do with nearby food sources, suitable trees for roosting or safety in numbers. The greatest threats to adult crows are humans and owls.

I remember seeing a documentary years ago about a crow that was using a wire to get a grub from the bottom of a deep, narrow container. After failing in its attempts to spear the grub, it bent the end of the wire into a hook shape and snagged it right away. Every time I see a flock of crows, I think of that crow and how it seemed to think of a solution to the problem it faced. Not “bird-brained” at all, crows actually have a large brain for their size and are known to adapt rapidly to changing conditions or circumstances. They will sometimes drop a nut on a hard surface to crack the shell, or even put it in the roadway and wait for a car to run over it.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Tobias_Sue_012914.jpg World in palm of our hands

    A newsroom workshop made writer Susan Tobias realize how far technology has come since she started working at the Press-Republican.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mulholland_Jonathan.jpg Running tips to get you in top form

    Different limb lengths, tighter muscles, stiffer joints, prior injuries all play role in determining your running style, Jonathan Mulholland writes.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • clute_cropped.jpg When children are put at risk

    Adults who deal drugs, commit domestic violence and other crimes with kids present are guilty of yet another crime, writes columnist Penny Clute.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Walace_Jolene 7-12_cropped.jpg Let these tips on planting trees take root

    You may think that digging a hole and plopping the tree in will suffice, and it will if you only want the tree to live a short time, columnist Jolene Wallace writes.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • amy_ivy.jpg Is it time to plant? Not yet

    All we can do is wait and see how things get through, columnist Amy Ivy writes.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns

Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time