The BBC has a lovely webpage with lots of information about the Rook. It has videos too. =)
Researchers in the Britain may have stumbled upon something interesting about rooks that Aesop observed some two-thousand-five-hundred years before. Rooks use different size stones to raise water levels in a tube that contains a worm. Is this really a recent ‘discovery’…read Aesop’s fable The Crow and the Pitcher:
A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher which had once been full of water; but when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the Pitcher he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he could not reach far enough down to get at it. He tried, and he tried, but at last had to give up in despair. Then a thought came to him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. At last, at last, he saw the water mount up near him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able to quench his thirst and save his life.
Little by little does the trick.
We like to believe that we are ingenius in our technology and research methods. But what these scientists observed in a laboratory, Aesop must have seen in his everyday observation in nature. Albeit, the rich in 500 B.C. had a lot more idle time to observe nature in its glory.
Here are a couple of videos for you to enjoy:
Another excellent photograph found on flickr. This one is by Mark Cummins. If you click on the photograph it will take you to the URL where it is originally posted.
I am not 100% certain what particular bird this is in the corvidae family. However, I think it might be a rook but I am reluctant to say this for certain with authority because I am not so familiar with rooks to recognize off the top of my head. It looks like a rook and it looks like it the same bird I previously posted by the same photographer and it was a rook. So, I imagine it is either the same bird or a similar one. =)
This is the Corvus frugilegus which means “food-gathering” in Latin. They are more commonly referred to as the Rook. I have not had the great pleasure of seeing this bird in person but I am very excited to learn about it. It looks like a harsher, thinner crow. It appears, to me, to have had a hard-knock-life. I like how it wears its character, much like I relish the quirks in people; a wrinkle earned through years of laughter and tears, an innocent freckle just above the wrist, the shy happiness in a crooked smile, the confident swing of a left-leaning gait.
From what I’ve learned about the Rook, you can differentiate it from similar corvids by looking for the “bare gray-white skin around the base of the adult’s bill in front of the eyes or the feathering around the legs; it looks shaggier and laxer than the congeneric Carrion Crow.”1
It seems it is found all over Europe and east of Europe. I read that it is found in Great Britain quite frequently.
Much like all corvids, it is a survivor. It will eat just about anything depending on where it lives. It prefers earthworms and insect larvae but will eat cereal grain, fruit, insects, crustaceans, small animals, acorns, bird eggs, and will pilfer through the trash for food scraps in urban areas.2
The Rook nests together in a colony. This is commonly referred to as colonial nesting which means nesting with many other birds in a safe place and living commune-style. The Rooks learn from one another and find food together. They protect one another but they are still predatory birds, so they can be found stealing from another from time to time. They prefer to nest way up high in trees. They typically have 3-5 eggs which are incubated for 16-18 days and the fledglings are cared for by their parents and other rooks for about a month.
Once fully fledged, they get together with other single rooks and sometimes even jackdaws and fly around, presumably deciding who they will mate with in the future. Or perhaps just enjoying the free, young, single life…flying around without a care.
You can hear a rook here.
It sounds much like most crows but maybe a little throatier which matches how they look, for me anyways. =) I like their throaty “caw”.
Rooks are interesting birds. And so they are written about…people speculate about their abilities and even conjure up powers for these intelligent birds. I found the following on Wikipedia… it is a direct copy and paste but interesting.
Like many other members of the Corvidae family, the Rook features prominently in folklore. Traditionally, Rooks are said to be able to forecast weather and to sense the approach of death. If a rookery — the colonial nesting area of rooks — were abandoned, it was said to bring bad fortune for the family that owned the land. Another folk-tale holds that rooks are responsible for escorting the souls of the virtuous dead to heaven. William Butler Yeats may be making reference to the latter tale in his poem The Cold Heaven.
In Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic book series, Abel reveals that the parliament would surround a single rook, with that one telling a story. If the story was not liked, the parliament would attack and kill the speaker.
In Brian Jacques’s Redwall series, rooks make an appearance in Mattimeo. Rooks, along with magpies and other similar birds make up the army of General Ironbeak, one of the villains in the book.
In Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series, rooks are seen as agents of the Dark and the sign-seeker, Will Stanton is warned never to fully trust one.
In Phillip Pullman’s book Northern Lights Lyra Belacqua and Roger Parslow catch and heal an injured rook on the college rooftop.
In Stephen King’s Dark Tower entry Wizard and Glass, one of the characters, Cuthbert Allgood, carries a rook’s skull tied around his neck, claiming it as a good luck charm.
I am now an official fan of the Rook. I may always have been but I simply did not know it.
Do YOU have a Rook story to share with me? I would love to hear one (or many!) If so, e-mail me below.
Ok, I know! I am going hogwild with the flickr photos today but really, aren’t they worth looking at? This is a beautiful photo by Mark Cummins (on Flickr) of a Rural Rook.
They are so interesting to look at, they are thinkers. I can appreciate that quality in them.
Unfortunately, I have never seen a rook in person. Poor me. I will do some more research on rooks and see where I can find them. I should know this but I am on a journey of exploration here.