(I was reading one of John Burroughs’ essays, and his description of the American Crow caught my eye, and made me think of my friend Tom Bushey, who loves to photograph them. Thank you, Tom, for letting me post some of those images here.)
Hardy, happy outlaws, the crows, how I love them! Alert, social, republican, always able to look out for himself, not afraid of the cold and the snow, fishing when flesh is scarce, and stealing when other resources fail, the crow is a character I would not willingly miss from the landscape. I love to see his track in the snow or the mud, and his graceful pedestrianism about the brown fields. He is no interloper, but has the air and manner of being thoroughly at home, and in rightful possession of the land. He is no sentimentalist like some of the plaining, disconsolate song-birds, but apparently is always in good health and good spirits. No matter who is sick, or dejected, or unsatisfied, or what the weather is, or what the price of corn, the crow is well and finds life sweet. He is the dusky embodiment of worldly wisdom and prudence. Then he is one of Nature’s self-appointed constables and greatly magnifies his office. He would fain arrest every hawk or owl or grimalkin that ventures abroad. I have known a posse of them to beset the fox and cry “Thief!” till Reynard hid himself for shame.
— John Burroughs “Winter Sunshine,” 1875
Note: during fall and winter months, crows roost together in the thousands, and even in some rare instances, in the millions. They begin gathering together in late afternoon in a location separate from the roost, then as darkness falls, they move to the location where they’ll spend the night. Experts think this is a behavior that helps them defend against their primary predator, the Great Horned Owl, and possibly, too, a strategy for sharing information about food sources.
Visit Tom’s gallery of American Crow images