Crow Talk

This week the crow roost in Renton continued to grow in size. Plus when I arrive to the parking lot when it is barely dawn, I get to see them fly off towards their home territories.

I was rewarded one morning with a parade overhead of the murder who live east on the hill behind Valley General Hospital. There was many of them flying in small family units and talking to each other.

Now when I said talk you must have thought of the crow harsh caw sound. There was some of that too but most of what I heard was more intimate. They were chuckling and cooing to each other. A little crow early morning family chatter.

A couple of weeks ago I heard one of our local crows imitating a chicken. My head must have swiveled off my neck when I heard it. But there was no chicken in sight and the crows were sitting right on my fence making that sound. What is that? a Crow Trickster?

What does all that crow chatter mean? Not sure we really know but here is a link on some interesting analysis done by others.

How To Understand Crow Language Article

Best of all, I kind of like this quote by Bernd Heinrich who is a famous Raven Scientist.

He states in “Ravens in Winter” the following, which seems equally true for the American crow as the Common Raven.


“We have hardly begun to decipher the language of the raven. Its dictionary so far contains but a few ‘words’. Perhaps our analysis has been too coarse-grained to catch the meanings. Our research has been something like that of aliens from outer space who make sonograms of human vocalizations under different situations – eating, playing, loving, fighting, etc. Certain differences noted in frequency, intonation, and loudness are correlated with feelings and emotions. But human sounds convey much more, and perhaps ravens’ do, too.”

That puts us in a special place to understand these black “aliens from outer space” and figure out what they are saying. Crows, Ravens and Jays are so smart how do we communicate with these intelligent species? I need to ponder that some more.

Crow Pair watching us



  1. When I was in Mississippi, I’m now in Alabama, I lived on six acres out in the country. I had four dogs. when they didn’t eat their food from the day before, I would toss it out in the field before I fixed their breakfast. One cool autumn morning I was out on my deck reading when I heard the sweetest cooing. It wasn’t a dove. I looked up…and looked and looked.

    Finally I saw a crow who, while balancing on an oak limb, bent forward and cooed…right at me. I realized they had been eating the left over dog food…and were asking so sweetly, if I had anything for them that morning!

    From that time on I started putting out a bit of food for my six crows.

    Thank you for this wonderful post. 🙂

    • That is so sweet and shows others that the crows are not the bad creatures many make them to be. They have families and care for those that help them.

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