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.”

Crow Cam Today =)

We put out peanuts without shells today for the first time. They were a hit. The crows like not having to open the shells and they attracted two more kinds of birds as well. =) Fun!

The crows seemed to be done for the day. The bowl was still about 1/4 full but they flew off. However, when a stellar jay showed up and started eating some of the peanuts, they came back cawing and trying to scare him off. He flew away but then when they flew off, he flew back. It was rather comical to watch. =) I think the new peanuts attracted him.

Common Raven

Originally uploaded by quasimodo4502

What a beautiful bird this is, isn’t it? He looks like he has a helmet, almost, doesn’t he? This was taken by Quasimodo4502 at Golden Gate Park. You can see the original photograph on Flickr. =)

I decided since it is Halloween, I would tell you a bit about the raven. =)

Did you know the “common raven” is the most widely distributed corvid of all? It is all over the Northern hemisphere. Like me, they prefer to stay away from places too hot. =)

They are omnivorous…meaning they will eat just about anything. This helps them survive and thrive. They are intelligent birds and beautiful. This is why they are so popular. There are poems about them, songs, stories, folklore, and obviously a lot of art.

If you’d like to draw one, paint one or photograph one and share it… we will post it. =)

Let us know (See below).

Let me end this with the very famous, very loved “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe.

The raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore –
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
«Tis some visitor», I muttered, «tapping at my chamber door:
Only this and nothing more».

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor,
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
«Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
This it is and nothing more».

Presently my soul grew stronger: hesitating then no longer,
«Sir», said I, «or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rapping.
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you». – Here I opened wide the door –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
Put the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only world there spoken was the whispered word, «Lenore!»
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, «Lenore!»
This, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, somewhat louder than before.
«Surely», said I, «surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore, –
Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore,
«Tis the wind, and nothing more».

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he, not a minute stopped or stayed he,
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then, this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling
By the grave and stem decorum of the countenance it wore,
«Though the crest be shorn and shaven, thou», I said, «art sure no craven,
Ghastly, grim, and ancient Raven, wandering from the nightly shore.
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the night’s Plutonian shore!»
Quoth the Raven, «Nevermore».

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door –
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door –
With such name as «Nevermore».

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered, not a feather then he fluttered;
Till I scarcely more than muttered, «Other friends have flown before!
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before!»
Then the bird said, «Nevermore.»

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
«Doubtless» said I, «what it utters is its only stock and store;
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Following fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of «Never – nevermore !»

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door}
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird oi yore
Meant in croaking «Nevermore».

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl, whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’cr –
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
«Wretch,» I cried, «thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite – respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, O quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!»
Quoth the Raven, «Nevermore».

«Prophet!» said I, «thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore?
Is there – is there balm in Gilead ? – tell me – tell me, I implore I»
Qucth the Raven, «Nevermore».

«Prophet!» said I, «thing of evil – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
By that heaven that bends above us, by that God we both adore,
Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore!»
Quoth the Raven, «Nevermore».

«Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!» I shrieked upstarting.
«Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!»
Quoth the Raven, «Nevermore».

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

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