Crows are the first arrivals of spring

When we think of the birds of spring, we usually think of the robin or some other nice one. But actually, the bird which comes back to us really early is the crow.
You usually can hear him long before the snow has gone.
In almost any other situation, the crow is not nearly so welcome. It is noisy, always ravenously hungry, and is smart enough to keep out of your way when you are trying to trap, scare, discourage, or shoot it.
The behaviour of crows indicates they very well may be the intellectuals of the bird world. Laboratory tests prove they do have a very high degree of intelligence.
This is a fact which any farmer since the time of the Romans could have told anyone who would listen.
Our crow is the Common Crow, or American Crow (Corvus brachyrynchos). Crows of one kind or another are found almost all over the world, except New Zealand.
Everyone knows what crows look like–large and black. The only other bird in Northern Ontario which could be mistaken for one is the raven.
Crows are not loved by farmers. They will dig up corn almost as fast as you can plant it, they will eat your peas (pod and all) off the vines, they will tear the husks off ripe corn cobs to get at the grain, they will guzzle the feed you put out for the chickens, and they will steal the food right from under your dog’s nose.
They also will eat eggs, and even young chicks or ducklings.
In all fairness, crows eat a lot of undesirable things, such as mice and insects, but it is usually accepted their bad acts far outweigh their good ones.
Crows also are one of nature’s better garbage collectors. They will flock to animal carcasses in very large numbers.
Crows have an immense hatred of owls, especially the Great Horned Owl. This owl can strike terror into the crow community at night, moving swiftly on silent wings in the dark.
But heaven help the owl found by a flock of crows in the daytime. They will gather around him, caw at him, peck at his feathers, and generally make his life totally miserable.
Crows will come from miles around to join in the fun. I have seen more than a hundred pestering one owl in southern Ontario.
Crows make very interesting pets. I had several when I was a boy. We used to get young crows out of the nests at the tops of the big old spruces not far from home. They soon become very tame.
In fact, some of them became positively obnoxious. One will sometimes become so attached to you that you just can’t get rid of it all day long.
Crows have a great attachment for anything shiny, which they take away and hide someplace. When the “shiny things” turn out to be silver coffee spoons, or silver coins, I can tell you a tame crow can very soon wear out his welcome.
My Scottish mother always referred to one particular bird as “that imp of Satan,” and was always going to strangle it. But she was really a kind soul, and the crow lived quite a long time.
Crows are not particularly plentiful in these parts of Northern Ontario so we don’t have the same problems with them as do those folks where they exist by the thousands.
So I suppose we can safely welcome them back, because after all, spring can’t be too far behind–can it?

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