Murder in the Flock

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I have given myself over to the serendipity of nature.  While following crow families I have seen the really good with triplet baby crows frolicking in the trees on their first outing.  On the other side of the spectrum I have seen crows attack each other.

I am sad today to tell you about a Crow murder I witnessed.  I don’t mean a flock of crows called a murder.  I am serious, this was an attack on another crow that ended in his death. Are crows like humans I ask?  Do they kill to protect their family and home?  Do they attack because someone tried to steal their lover?  It appears that nature mirrors our human lives or do we mirror nature?

Several times in the past years I have found the results of these attacks, but never have I watched in paralyzing astonishment as it actually happened.  Here is how it went down.

I was talking on the phone and looking out my office window around 8 am Friday the 13th. Out of nowhere there they were tussling on the ground across the street. I could see them through the trees, two crows attacking another crow. The poor guy was down on his back. That is a bad thing for a crow. He laid there with his feet up in the air while the two took turns on him. Sound familiar to humans?

I figure that he was a goner but then he surprised me and got up.  They tried to get him back down but he flew off. This flight was low and desperate.  It crossed a four lane busy street and I watched as a car seemed to nearly hit him. He dived into the gutter.

Scene of the crime
Scene of the crime

I ended my phone conversation to go check on him.  I got down to the street and there was no crow in the gutter.  I was relieved he had survived and escaped.

As the day went on I continue to watch my local crow family fly from tree to tree like they had for several weeks.  This is the nesting dance that I have seen them do every year where they try to find just the right place to raise a family. (here is a link to a post I did recently on this nesting search – http://wp.me/p1d1cX-11q)

Several times a crow would go down to the place in the gutter that the poor offender had landed in.  They also gathered in the trees above the area cawing down.  This made me curious about what happened to the poor fellow.

When I left work many hours later, I decided to go look again at the spot.  And that is when I discovered him.  He had passed away in the ivy covered median next to the road. There he was with his feathers all perfect but his life was gone.

Victim beside the road
Victim beside the road
Murdered Crow
Murdered Crow

This instance reminded me of another crow death.  In 2012 outside our office window a drama unfolded but I didn’t see the actual act that time.

That Thursday around the lunch hour a big crow fight broke out up on the sidewalk next to the building.  Friday morning a dead crow was found in the bushes where the fight had happened the day before. What we found was a very healthy well fed crow who had been pecked to death.  Our crow remover turned him over and we think he might even be a raven due to the size of his beak.  I am not sure if that is true but it is possible.

Crow or Raven?   The intruder paid with his life.
Crow or Raven? The intruder paid with his life.
Dead Crow found in the bushes after the fight on the sidewalk.  He intruded into their nesting territory.
Dead Crow found in the bushes after the fight on the sidewalk. He intruded into their nesting territory.

Whatever he was, he was dead now.   He must have come back for more because when we left on Thursday night his body wasn’t there.  That makes us think he just didn’t get the hint and returned.   If he was a raven, then the family were even more freaked out about his arrival.   He wouldn’t have hesitated about stealing eggs or babies.

That Friday evening as I left, I turned around and looked back at the building for the pair.   There they were on top of the old TV antenna.   This confirmed it was an intruder that was dead and they were still hanging in the area.  Now several years later this same family is still determined to protect their territory and family.

Nature is not pretty and tidy. You never know what you will be shown; it can be sweet and cute or it can be cold and brutal. It is not just flowers and pretty sunsets.

It also includes creatures trying to make their way in a difficult world just like us humans. It is all about survival in the end.  I ask, what do Crows and Humans have in common?   I believe the answer is…we are very similar because we both love and protect our families no matter what.

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