Bird watching RV tours are a great way to see North America’s flying creatures. This Halloween, keep an eye out for crows and ravens. These birds have been given a bad rap from scary stories, but the truth is more interesting than the myths.
Ravens Can Make Revving Sounds
The raven has long been associated with death and dark omens. Many European cultures took one look at this large black bird with an intense gaze and thought it was evil. One theory suggests the raven (like the coyote) obtained mythic status because it was a mediator animal between life and death. Ravens became associated with the dead and with lost souls. In France, people believed ravens were the souls of wicked priests, while crows were wicked nuns, and in Germany ravens were the incarnation of damned souls or sometimes Satan himself.
Crows and ravens are members of the “corvid” family, along with magpies, jays, and nutcrackers. When it comes to intelligence, crows and ravens have the largest brains — relative to body size — of any birds. Ravens have the same brain/body size ratio as chimpanzees and dolphins. In captivity, ravens can learn to talk better than some parrots, with at least seven different calls. They can also mimic car engines, toilets flushing, animals, and other birds. They also use stunt flying to attract mates (barrel-rolling, flying upside-down, somersaults) and display a range of intelligent behaviors, such as language, passion, risk-taking and awareness, according to researchers.
Ravens are quite similar to the crows — this will help you tell them apart.
Bird Watching RV Enemies? Crows Recognize Friends — and Foes
Crows also remember faces. If you are kind to crows, they will remember and tell their friends and relatives. But the same goes if you do something bad. In a Seattle study, human researchers captured crows while wearing face masks. When the crows were later released, they attacked the people wearing the masks, but as soon as the masks were removed, the crows paid no attention to them.
When the masks were put on again, the crows swooped at them, and other crows showed up only having learned this from the original crows that had been captured. They have been known to mourn their dead by gathering silently in trees above their fallen comrades, and then teach their young and other crows to avoid areas where their brethren had been shot or trapped. So think twice before treating crows badly, as they will find out about it. And when they do they will find you, remember you, and teach their friends and children about you. And maybe, just maybe, they will get even on your next bird watching RV tour.