Our Land Is The Sky: The Adventures of Jimmy Fastwing

I love my crows. And I love books. And I really love books about crows.

I recently read a charming story of Jimmy Fastwing, a young crow, in the journey of his first year of life. This book walks you through the life of a young, clever crow named Jimmy Fastwing. Life isn't easy being a crow. It is easy for us to forget how very few crow actually survive through their first year. Less than half of the crows hatched will survive each year. The odds are not in their favor. Add in the constant danger from dogs, cats and humans who despite crows, and the first year of a crow's life is as action packed as any blockbuster movie. Our Land is the Sky: The Adventures of Jimmy Fastwing by Frank J. Croskerry gives us a peek into the day to day life and struggles of one little brave crow. From the publisher, a more articulate description of this lovely little book,

Spring has been a violent affair this year, and many new crows have not survived the high winds and rainstorms. For the few who have, there are still the very dangerous exercises of learning what birds need to know to exist with the rest of the clan. While flying comes naturally to them, there is much more they need to know if they are to stay out of harm's reach. Young crow Jimmy Fastwing has his grandfather to teach him the basic things a young crow needs to know. If he can manage the first stages of take-offs and landings, there will be other family members to assist him in his learning. He'll have to know about things like finding food, hiding it, and socializing with the clan. Join Jimmy in his first year of life as he grows, learns, and avoids one calamity after another. If he's lucky, he'll learn quickly enough to become an important member of the clan.
One of my favorite quirky parts of this story is that Frank Croskerry adds in little cute crow puns like "crow-sing" for cruising, "crow-d", and cawcaphony... I have a penchant for such puns. I used them here on CorvidCorner myself with "crow-tations" and so each time I read one of his clever little puns I smiled and chuckled to myself. Fun! I recommend this book for all who love crows, birds or just a good fictional story of the natural world. Our Land is the Sky: The Adventures of Jimmy Fastwing is a juvenile fiction book, 88 pages. I read it in an hour or so. I even read it aloud for a friend. I think it is a great story to read to your children, to your friends, to anyone interested in learning more about crows and their social nature and their struggle to survive the first year of life. Thank you Frank J. Croskerry for this charming read. It now has a permanent place in my ever-growing library of crow-related books.

An Injured Crow

I have many bird visitors daily to my feeders. The past few days a crow has been visiting. This crow is beautiful, younger but this crow is injured. And it makes me so sad to see the bird limp. =(

You can see him/her nursing its leg. =(

The crow didn't fly away like most do when I get too close. It is injured and worried but I was not hasty in approaching it.

I made some calls to the local wildlife organization to see if they could help. If you find an injured crow (or any bird) or an abandoned nest or hatchling (baby bird), you can call or visit the website of national organization to find your local facilities:

When in doubt, just call your local humane society and ask what to do or who to call. They should be able to help direct you to the appropriate people to contact. If you really can't figure out anyone to call, write me at crowgyrls at gmail dot com. I will find someone for you to call. My local wildlife organization told me to see if I can catch the crow and bring it in. They recommended using a towel or a sheet. Crows are nervous by nature (and rightfully so). It may take a bit to catch them, if you can at all. If the crow can fly, they will probably evade you. And crows have an amazing memory and can teach their young to avoid particular people. So, be prepared to be the bad guy for awhile. Perhaps permanently. It is not for the faint of heart, helping transport a crow to an animal hospital or wildlife facility. I will let you know how this goes...

The Crow from Six Feet Under

Copyright HBO (Six Feet Under)
... I have been watching Six Feet Under and the opening sequence includes a corvid. I thought it was a raven because it is much bigger than a normal crow and its feathers around the neck are shaggier, it also has a larger bill. So, I did some research and here is what I found out. It was a trick. It is indeed a crow but not an ordinary crow which is approximately 40–50 cm (16–20 inches) in length. It is being portrayed as an American Crow but it is reportedly a painted Pied Crow (Corvus Albus) which is often thought of as a small raven and is approximately 46–50 cm (18.1 - 23.6 inches) in length. In the Season 1 commentary, the Director mentions that they used a Pied Crow which is native to Africa for the opening sequence and they painted it black to look like an American Crow instead of using an actual American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) because it is illegal to film a crow in the United States under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,

All native species of birds, with exception of upland game species (chukar, pheasant, quail, grouse), introduced species (starlings, house or "english sparrows", and feral pigeons) are protected by the MBTA. Migratory birds, their parts, nests or eggs may not be possessed, transported, imported, exported, purchased, sold, bartered, or offered for purchase, sale or barter without appropriate permits.

According to the USFWS Law Enforcement Division,
Use of birds for filming is not allowed in the United States, unless the film is produced for the purpose of wildlife conservation education (National Geographic or Discovery Channel films, for example). Commercial use of migratory birds is prohibited. This would include using birds in films produced for entertainment or commercials.
I guess we learn something new every day. The bird is beautiful but not right in it's natural state for the opening sequence, not dark enough, or so I imagine. And our ordinary American Crows are not film-able in the United States. Thus, we get a painted Pied Crow in the beginning of every episode of HBO's Six Feet Under. The ironic part of all this is... we are allowed to legally kill crows, just not film them for commercial purposes. Exploit them -- NO WAY! Kill them, sure. What strange laws we have.

Copyright HBO (Six Feet Under)
According to HBO's Six Feet Under Behind the Scenes,
Lane Jensen of Digital Kitchen wrote, "The thing we discovered about crows is that it is illegal to film true crows in the United States for commercial purposes. This crow was actually a pied crow. it has a white chest, so we painted the chest black. It was not very well trained, and it had to be on a leash, it didn't want to fly. "
Alan Poul from Six Feet Under wrote, "The thing that sticks out the most is the crow. Every effects house had come in with some kind of death-related imagery. But the crow seemed like something that was not so literally tied to the show and not overly macabre, but so evocative of the darker feelings the show would conjure up."

Crows and ravens can nest as early as February

The Crow's Nest.jpg
The Crow's Nest.jpg by Tony Margiocchi (Snapperz)

Most birds start to nest in the late spring and throughout summer but there have been observations of crows and ravens nesting as early as February. According to these observations,1
  • American crow: Allen Larner observed adults nest building on Feb. 23, 2000, and Feb. 21, 2005, both in Staunton. American crows live on territories the year round in family groups of 2-10 birds. Adults and young of the previous year may assist in raising the young of the newest brood.
  • Common raven: Our earliest breeding record is a pair carrying nest material on Feb. 3, 2008, at Fishersville. Beth and Harry Lumadue made this observation. It was on a large billboard. They kept close track of the nest and discovered eggs on Feb. 28.
  • Allen Hale discovered another nest with eggs on Feb. 28, 1988, at the quarry on Statler Boulevard in Staunton. It was unusual to find a raven nest right in town.
Now is as good as time as any to put out things in your yard for the birds to find to make nests. Twigs, scraps of light material, etc. But please as always it is important to not let plastic bags end up all over the place. Recycle them properly or better yet, commit to not using plastic. Use your own reusable canvas bags, most grocery stores offer them for like $1 and you can use them time and time again. Or use paper. Plastic is so detrimental to birds not to mention the entire plastic island that is accumulating in the middle of the ocean. =( *jumps off soapbox*
  1. http://www.newsleader.com/article/20110202/SPORTS/102020330/1006/SPORTS []

Crow Cull Petition (Save the crows!)

In attempt to 'save the song birds'  "Crows and magpies in Britain are to be trapped and killed in the first large-scale trial of culling."  It has to be more complicated than simply the crows killing the birds. It is more likely a combination of many things but killing off many of any species cannot be the logical first step. Please, help stop this by reading more here and here AND by signing the petition here.