Difference between Ravens and Crows

A fantastic video explaining (and showing) the difference between ravens and crows...   The people who made this video, Rick and Diana Boufford, have a fantastic website, Raven Diaries, with lots of goodies (information, stories, photos, a much longer video all about ravens...etc!) You should definitely check it out! And they have their own youtube account (Raven Diaries) here.

Lecture on Crows by John Marzluff

You might have heard of this fellow, John Marzluff. He is a professor at the University of Washington who studies crows. He is the one who led the research with the ability of facial recognition by crows. If you haven't read it, you can read it here. Yes, crows can recognize a person's face and teach other crows to learn it as well. They have an elaborate way of communicating, one we cannot comprehend YET! =)  John Marzluff has written a few crow related books (one will be released in June of this year!). Here is a lecture on crows I found...check it out...

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 []

The Crow Girls

After the fantastic response to my audio recording of Charles de Lint's Make a Joyful Noise (listen to it here), I decided to make a concerted effort to find all the literary references to these two magical characters, the Crow Girls. I have read them in various stories and books of Charles de Lint's. I will revisit his books again to comb through them to find where and when they appear. If you know of any off the top of your head, please leave a comment and I will add them to this post. The first reference that comes to mind, aside from Make a Joyful Noise, is in The Onion Girl. This is one of my very favorite books by Charles de Lint and includes other amazing characters like Jilly Coppercorn who I believe everyone should have the opportunity to get to know. Another couple stories or books I remember reading about the Crow Girls were in Someplace to be flying, Triskell Tales and Triskell Tales 2 (available only for 2nd hand purchase). I will list all the pages where the Crow Girls debut soon. In the meantime, I found these wonderful references or stories about the Crow Girls around the web... The Crow Girls (art) by Erin Kelso

The Crow Girls (fan art by Erin Kelso)

Character Connections Charles de Lint by The Introverted Reader -- This is an interesting character connection and delightful description of the Crow Girls textually supported. =) A Crow Girls Christmas by Charles de Lint and his wife -- This is both a short story AND a wonderful artistic rendition of the Crow Girls by his wife, Mary Ann Harris. Click on the title to go to Charles de Lint's website to read this charming short story!

The Crow Girls Christmas (art by Mary Ann Harris)
The Crow Girls Christmas (art by Mary Ann Harris)
More to come soon...

Make a Joyful Noise Audio Recording

Make a Joyful Noise by Charles DeLint

A few weeks ago I posted about Make a Joyful Noise written by Charles de Lint (read post here). I enthusiastically shared two of my favorite literary characters, the Crow Girls, Maida and Zia. This story is not available to purchase anymore but since I had a copy I thought I would ask the author if I could record it and post it on Corvid Corner to allow other crow lovers to enjoy it as well. Much to my surprise, he said I could! =) And without further delay here is the story...(don't forget to bookmark it!). Make a Joyful Noise (Part 1) Make a Joyful Noise (Part 2) Make a Joyful Noise ( Part 3) Make a Joyful Noise (Part 4) Make a Joyful Noise (Part 5) Make a Joyful Noise (Part 6) A friend made the following graphic to go with this audio recording. Thank you.

Please do NOT redistribute this recording elsewhere or re-post it on other sites. If you enjoy it and wish to share it you can send a link to this post to as many people as you would like. We want to be respectful of copyright laws and issues and not take advantage of the kindness of Charles de Lint in allowing me to share this here. =) Thank you and enjoy! Update 1/10/2011: I started a new post for more information on these two beautiful characters, the Crow Girls here. Perhaps together we corvid lovers can find all references to them and share them with the world.

The Crow and the Pitcher more than fable?

The Crow and the Pitcher, originally uploaded by AnnaleeBlysse.
Scientists believe the fable of the crow and the pitcher might have been fairly accurate given the new research showing rooks using rocks to raise the level of water where a worm resided... to bring the worm up to their level.1 They are such incredibly intelligent birds. The other animal who showed fluid mechanics was the orangutan. I will bet corvids are just as smart if not smarter than many of the primates. You can read more about the studies here.
  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/5983953/Aesops-fable-is-true-shows-crow-study.html []

Crow art by David Hayward

2 blackbirds snow, originally uploaded by nakedpastor.
Up north in Canada there is an artist, David Hayward, who is a pastor, a spiritual guide, a husband, an artist... and he has many beautiful paintings of crows. Here are a few of my favorites.
Wet Crow by David Hayward
Tango Crows by David Hayward
2 Crows Against Moon by David Hayward
To see the rest of David Hayward's crow paintings, click here. To see more you can visit his website The Naked Pastor here. Or his Etsy page here.