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."

Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest

Two of my very dearest things, ravens and books, and a story set in the Pacific Northwest... my home. This is a book about a raven...what better way to introduce children to your love of ravens and crows than reading a good story about them? Here is the official book description,
Raven, the trickster, wants to give people the gift of light. But can he find out where Sky Chief keeps it? And if he does, will he be able to escape without being discovered? His dream seems impossible, but if anyone can find a way to bring light to the world, wise and clever Raven can!
Click on the book above to purchase the book or to read more about it.

Ravens Compete

Ravens Compete, originally uploaded by nordicshutter. Love, love, love. Ravens like all corvids are loving and close with family. They are loyal mates. According to the Dr. Bernd Heinrich, mates are close to as what we think of as monogamous as any bird can be. Here is what he told Carolyn Kraft on wildthingsblog.org,
Dr. Heinrich explained that, “ravens are more monogamous than many, in the sense that the same pair may stay together for years. I have had mated pairs, and seen how they are totally uninterested in other individuals, even when a mate is not available.” Since ravens live for more than half a century, Heinrich said that “nobody on earth has demonstrated that there was no extra-pair copulation.” And he said that in almost all the genetic investigations to check paternity of chicks of “monogamous” bird species there is quite a bit of extra-pair fertilization. “But I suspect in ravens it would be rare,” he concludes.

Two corvid-related sites worth visiting

I wanted to tell you about two corvid-related sites worth visiting both run out of the UK. Each is informative, helpful and specific to corvids. The Corvid Journal

According to their about page,
This website is a new collaborative project dedicated to bringing you information and insights into the world of a remarkable family of birds, the Corvidae. The Corvid family is really quite large and surprisingly varied, worldwide. Not all of them immediately resemble the archetypal Crow or Raven we most commonly associate with the group. Some are really quite exotic in appearance. Here, in the UK though, we have just 8 resident members of the Corvid family, the 5 True Crows that are the Raven, the Carrion Crow, the Hooded Crow, the Rook and the Jackdaw and their close relatives, the Chough, the Magpie and the Jay. These 8 species will be the main focus of this site. That said, we hope to find a room for all things Corvid, so along with articles and serious studies we'll be adding a little fun too. We plan to write a lot of original material ourselves and publish a number of articles written by people who have had close contact with Corvids. It seems a little pointless, however, to duplicate too much information that has been well documented elsewhere, so if the sources are reliable, of good quality and are clearly presented, we will just link to them with a brief description.
Corvid Aid

  This site offers a how-to-guide for helping corvids in trouble, injured crows etc. You can find it here. You can read in their own words what Corvid Aid is about,
Corvid Aid is a small, independently run corvid sanctuary. We aim to rescue and rehabilitate all corvids in need of our help. The sanctuary is based in West Yorkshire, England and is run by Vanessa Blackburn and her partner Jason Bastow.
Their about page is actually very informative and worth reading. Click on the 'about' link above. What an excellent cause to pursue! Thank you Vanessa and Jason for doing something to help the corvid family in the UK and by proxy around the world. You can also read an article they wrote published in the Telegraph.co.uk here.

Rare White Ravens in Canada

Qualicum Beach, a beach and town on Vancouver Island British Columbia, is the home of some white ravens. According to one source,

"... The birds are thought to be leucistic and not albino, the result of a genetic defect producing chicks lacking normal pigmentation."

Another source said ravens are monogamous, life-long mates and thus would more likely mate with one of their own kinds for life. Together they would produce chicks that lack pigment as well. However it happens, it is beautiful and rare. Watch these videos for yourself and see... Additonal Source: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/294246, youtube, http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/Another+rare+white+raven+spotted+near+Qualicum+Beach/3236437/story.html