When it comes to symbols of bad luck and misfortune, the black crow is the image that is most recognized and mentioned by people, even though in reality, Black Crows are intelligent and extremely cunning birds. Moreover, in the struggles for survival between different animal species, black crows always demonstrate a resilient and admirable personality, which we should learn from. Today’s article will introduce you to some extremely interesting characteristics based on practical grounds about this creature that has long been associated with bad luck.
The Black Crow and Its Interesting Characteristics
Throughout various cultures and regions, black crows have long been associated with death and bad omens in the beliefs of the people. However, apart from the imposed negative connotations, black crows possess numerous fascinating characteristics that you may not be aware of.
Abundant Species Diversity
The black crow, scientifically known as Corvus brachyrhynchos, is not as rare as one might think. In fact, the reality is quite the opposite. According to statistics, there are a total of 120 species of crows that inhabit different terrains, showcasing a wide-ranging and diverse population.
Among these 120 species, the Dwarf Jay, commonly found in Mexico, is the smallest in size. Weighing only about 40 grams and measuring 21.5 cm in length, they are the tiniest members of the crow family.
Unique Eating Preferences
What do black crows eat? Unlike other bird species that prefer to consume fresh food, black crows have a peculiar taste. They are extremely fond of carrion, including the decaying bodies of animals, as well as foul-smelling food found in garbage dumps.
This behavior sets them apart and, along with their black feathers, contributes to the association of black crows with death and ill omens.
Furthermore, black crows are considered omnivorous, as they can eat a variety of other food items.
Despite their preference for rotting food and unsanitary conditions, the average lifespan of a black crow is around 7 years, and some individuals can even live up to 14 years.
However, it’s important to note that these crows thrive when living in their natural wild habitats rather than being confined to cages.
Crows are incredibly clever and highly intelligent creatures, surpassing many other bird species in terms of their cognitive abilities.
In a study conducted on these animals, researchers discovered several similarities between the brain of a black crow and that of a human.
Moreover, crows demonstrate higher intelligence than even Bonobos, a species of ape, and parrots, which are commonly mistaken for being the most intelligent.
Some experts have even dubbed black crows as “feathered primates” to describe their remarkable brain capacity. The intelligence of black crows is first evident in their remarkable memory. The behavior of birds hiding food is well-known, but black crows take it to an astonishing level.
They can hide food in a secret location after just 2 or 3 instances and still remember its exact whereabouts. In addition to their memory, the repetitive calls of “caw caw” may sound similar at first, but they convey different messages to the flock depending on the timing and context.
This differentiation demonstrates that the intelligence of crows has reached a level of distinct language similar to that of humans.
Beneficial to Humans
While black crows are often seen as symbols of evil and negativity, in reality, they do not pose any harm to humans. On the contrary, they bring numerous valuable benefits.
Unlike the perception held by those who haven’t directly observed crows, black crows are actually quite gentle, contrary to their wild and unattractive image.
Crows are sociable creatures that adapt exceptionally well to human-inhabited environments.
For farmers specializing in crop cultivation, crows provide effective pest control, eliminating the need for expensive and potentially harmful pesticides.
Moreover, simply by observing a crow’s facial expressions and gestures, one can discern its character with remarkable intelligence and sophistication, surpassing the cognitive abilities of many other bird species.
Crows belong to the category of migratory birds and live in large flocks. Their migration is quite “busy,” occurring continuously throughout the fall and winter seasons in a regular and continuous manner.
Another reason why crows are associated with the image of brutality is their innate tendency to collectively kill and harm their own kind. When a crow in the flock is in danger or injured, all the remaining crows will join forces to attack it until it is dead, turning it into a source of live food for the day.
In the realm of natural survival struggles, the fighting ability of crows lies in their resilience and bravery. Even when facing the eagle, the “king of the sky,” black crows show no fear and are ready to fight to the end. There are numerous folk tales about crows, not only in Vietnam but also in many other parts of the world.
One of the most prominent is in Greek mythology, where the god Apollo sends a white crow to watch over Coronis, his lover. Coronis and Ischys unfortunately develop feelings for each other and continue their secret affair despite Apollo’s presence. The white crow witnesses everything and faithfully reports the entire story to the god.
Top 10 Surprising Facts About Black Crows You Might Not Know
Unattractive in appearance, lacking vibrant colors, and devoid of human affection, black crows are often shunned and blamed.
However, there are some surprising facts that challenge this perception and provide a fresh and unexpected perspective.
What are these facts? We have compiled the top 10 surprising facts about black crows below that you may not be aware of.
In his anger upon discovering the painful truth, Apollo scolds the white crow for not pecking out Ischys’ eyes while on guard duty. His anger transforms into flames, and the god burns the white crow’s feathers in a fiery blaze, causing the crow to be covered in black from head to toe, becoming extremely ugly.
You can add more about: The Pileated Woodpecker: An In-Depth Look at Nature’s Drummer
1. Mimicking Human Speech
If you think only parrots, mynah birds, and magpies can mimic human speech, you’d be mistaken, as black crows also possess that innate ability.
Furthermore, besides humans, they can imitate the calls of other animals remarkably well. In the natural world, this advantage becomes an incredibly useful strength for black crows, enabling them to survive, find more food, and escape life-threatening situations.
The closer they are exposed to human-inhabited environments, the more their adaptability shines through. In particular, black crows can mimic sounds such as car horns, running water, and clapping hands. They can imitate them all.
This intriguing phenomenon has surprised many researchers, prompting them to delve deeper into understanding it and uncovering countless fascinating discoveries.
Firstly, when a pair of black crows mate and become separated, instead of calling out their own individual cries, they imitate the calls of their mate while searching for each other. This allows their partner to easily recognize them and reunite.
Although not exhibited by every single crow, in some cases, trained and scientifically nurtured crows have been able to mimic the deep voice of a man or the high pitch of a woman.
Outside of the wild, this characteristic of crows is utilized to lure wolves towards carcasses, enabling them to divide and feast on massive chunks of meat.
Crows and wolves have a rather unique relationship in reality. While wolves typically track the movements of black crows to find food, crows play tricks on the wolves’ “credulity” by sneaking up behind them or moving close to their face, waiting for the wolves to charge before flying away.
It is only when the wolves are exhausted and frustrated, giving up and turning away, that the crows’ playful trickery comes to an end.
2. Black Crows and Kites are Two Different Species
Contrary to the common misconception that black crows and kites belong to the same species, this is entirely incorrect. The appearance of these two bird species bears many similarities, making it easy for observers to mistake them for each other. However, upon closer examination, you will discover the key differences, particularly in their beaks and tails.
Black crows have larger beaks and tails with a forked shape, enabling them to fly higher. Additionally, there is a significant size difference between the two species. Black crows tend to travel in pairs, whereas kites usually fly alone.
When in flight, the shape of the tail is the most noticeable distinguishing feature visible to the naked eye. Black crows have evenly spread tail feathers in a fan shape, while kites have a more curved tail without any distinct pattern.
Apart from physical characteristics, their vocalizations can also help differentiate between black crows and kites. Kites emit a call that sounds like “quaw” and “durr,” while black crows produce a sound resembling “coác.”
In terms of flight behavior, black crows appear to glide in the sky, soaring and frequently drifting with the wind, while kites exhibit a different pattern, focusing more on flapping their wings.
3. High Cognitive Abilities
Numerous experiments have been conducted to challenge the intelligence of black crows. One of these experiments involved suspending a piece of meat high above and testing whether the black crows could retrieve it.
At the end of the test, after only six attempts, the black crows were able to easily retrieve the meat. In contrast, other bird species took up to 30 attempts to accomplish the task.
You may not be aware that scientists have confirmed the intelligence of black crows is equivalent to that of monkeys and even comparable to that of young children.
Specifically, researchers Bernd Heinrich and Thomas Bugnyar discovered that black crows often pause and think for 30 seconds before carrying out the easy task of obtaining food without any hindrance. This is a special ability that even other bird species within the same crow family cannot achieve.
4. Black Crows as Omens of Misfortune
In the beliefs of many people, black crows are seen as harbingers of misfortune and bad luck. Moreover, if one happens to encounter a flock of black crows, it is considered even more ominous. This association with negativity is prevalent not only in Vietnam but also in most countries around the world. Accidentally spotting a group of black crows somewhere can instill a sense of fear in people.
This is because their appearance is often considered unattractive and unpleasant, even among those who do not adhere to superstition.
5. White Crows
If you think that white crows have beautiful and captivating feathers, this rare occurrence is not actually considered fortunate. White plumage in crows only occurs when they are affected by a rare genetic disorder called leucism, which results in a reduction of pigmentation in their feathers. This condition is inherited from the bird’s parents to their offspring.
This phenomenon is not widespread, and white crows have been observed at Qualicum Beach in Canada, but repeated sightings have been extremely rare. Although the lifespan of black and white crows is not high, they can produce three additional individuals each year that inherit the same condition of leucism.
Currently, the conservation of white crows is actively pursued by the local authorities at Qualicum Beach. However, the long-term viability of their conservation efforts remains uncertain.
6. Crows with “Arms”
The “arms” of black crows, of course, are not five-fingered hands like humans have. We can borrow this term to refer to a part that has a similar flexibility, which is their “beak”. The beak of black crows carries implications and specific messages in terms of grasping and holding objects. For example, if they spend more time gnawing on something, touch their beaks to another crow, or jointly manipulate objects…
From the intelligent behaviors and gestures of crows, scientists can answer many questions related to human behavior and gestures. This contributes to shedding light on various issues that can be applied in the field of psychology.
7. Creatures of Trustworthiness
Through detailed observations, black crows can distinguish who is “cheating” within the flock.
During food sharing sessions, each crow is given a portion based on its contribution. If any individual exceeds the prescribed limit, it will be immediately condemned and excluded from “cooperation” in future hunting sessions.
Black crows have highly complex cooperative behaviors within their flocks, which is not found in other mammalian species. Trustworthiness and trust are crucial for them. If trust is valued, the whole flock cherishes it; otherwise, the untrusted individual will be isolated and forced to forage alone, facing numerous dangers.
In addition to respecting honesty, black crows are also highly social creatures. Several experiments have shown that when one crow is sad or unsuccessful, another crow will immediately come to comfort its companion.
8. Faithful Creatures
Once they reach maturity, black crows will leave the embrace of their mother and fly off to find a flock to join, share food with, and find a lifelong partner.
The mate of a black crow is exclusive, and they build nests and live together for the rest of their lives, raising their offspring. Once they have established a specific territory, black crows will bravely defend their mate and offspring against any enemies.
After about a month, when the young crows have grown, they will continue to fly off to find a flock to join and integrate into a new environment.
9. Future Planning
Not only humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, but black crows also have the ability to plan for their future. This discovery has once again caused shock and surprise, leaving many people astonished.
In verified experiments, when provided with useful tools by humans, some crows would hide them, thinking they would be useful in the future. Numerous experiments have yielded similar results, leaving no doubt about the black crows’ ability to plan for their future.
10. Movie Superstar
During the 1930s-1950s, Jimmy became a famous black crow appearing in many films. Many movies featured the talented crow, including “You Can’t Take It with You,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “The Wizard of Oz.” Under the training of experienced professionals, Jimmy had the ability to understand over 100 words with two syllables, peck, ride a bicycle, open mail, and countless other unique talents that set him apart.
Where to Buy Black Crows?
Due to their association with bad luck and negative connotations, black crows are not widely sought after, and it can be challenging to find them for sale. Even bird shops often limit or avoid trading black crows to avoid potential misfortune and the risk of poor sales. Black crows primarily live in the wild and are rarely exchanged or sold.
In conclusion, black crows defy their negative superstitions by displaying remarkable intelligence, adaptability, and fascinating behaviors. Understanding their true nature allows us to appreciate these birds for their unique qualities. Next time you spot a black crow, take a moment to admire its resilience and the lessons it can teach us about survival and ingenuity.
Are black crows really a symbol of bad luck?
While black crows have been associated with bad luck in folklore, their actual significance varies across cultures.
Can black crows really mimic human speech?
Yes, black crows have been observed mimicking human speech, although they may not possess the same level of proficiency as parrots.
Are black crows and ravens the same bird?
No, black crows and ravens are distinct species with noticeable differences in size, appearance, and behavior.
Can I keep a black crow as a pet?
Black crows are protected wildlife, and it is illegal to keep them as pets without proper permits and licenses.
How can I support the conservation of black crows?
You can contribute to black crow conservation efforts by supporting local wildlife sanctuaries, participating in citizen science projects, and spreading awareness about their importance in ecosystems.