Walking back from the beach to my room at The Breakers, I heard the boisterous clamor of crows harassing a predator.
“Crows are members of the Corvidae family, which also includes ravens, magpies, and blue jays. Loud, rambunctious, and very intelligent, crows are most often associated with a long history of fear and loathing. They are considered pests by farmers trying to protect their crops and seedlings. Many people fear them simply because of their black feathers, which are often associating them with death. But research demonstrated in A Murder of Crows proves crows are actually very social and caring creatures, and also among the smartest animals on the planet.
Crows are very social and have a tight-knit family. They roost in huge numbers (in the thousands) to protect themselves from enemies like red-tailed hawks, horned-owls, and raccoons. Crows also use at least 250 different calls. The distress call brings other crows to their aid, as crows will defend unrelated crows. Crows mate for life.
A group of crows is called a “murder.” There are several different explanations for the origin of this term, mostly based on old folk tales and superstitions. For instance, there is a folktale that crows will gather and decide the capital fate of another crow. Many view the appearance of crows as an omen of death because ravens and crows are scavengers and are generally associated with dead bodies, battlefields, and cemeteries, and they’re thought to circle in large numbers above sites where animals or people are expected to soon die.
But the term “murder of crows” mostly reflects a time when groupings of many animals had colorful and poetic names. Other fun examples of “group” names include: an ostentation of peacocks, a parliament of owls, a knot frogs, and a skulk of foxes.”