Jungle Crows: Decent Neighbors


By haythornthwaite.c


Crows in Japan have long had a bad reputation, perhaps moreso than anywhere else. They are prevalent, noisy, and very commonplace but does that mean they should be regarded as vermin?  Colin Tyner, Japanese resident, does not think so. He writes,

“The other day, I was looking out of my window and I spotted a large crow’s nest just outside. Not only was I struck by its size — it was huge, easily a couple of meters wide — I was amazed how something that large and inhabited by such big birds could have escaped my attention.

Jungle crows, the most common of the three types of crows living Japan, have a poor reputation. Along with the cedar pollen bloom, crow-human conflict is one of the more unpleasant signs that spring is here. This friction occurs in places where the lives of the two species intersect, which is usually early in the morning on our way to work or when taking out the trash. Otherwise, we rarely see them.

Adult birds take care of their nests and their young during most of the daylight hours. They have better things to do than pester us, unless we come too close to their young. The other reason is that they are asleep when people are coming home from work. There are probably good reasons why people in Japan think of a crow cawing in the evening as a sign that something odd is going to happen. For a crow, this is also not of the norm. Crows may be early risers, but they are not night owls.

Really, crows are decent neighbors. Their early morning hours are similar to senior citizens and they are generally quieter. It is also worth mentioning that for all the stories that I hear about people being woken up in the morning by noxious crows, the dogs living in my neighborhood are much noisier, and much more disruptive and frightening. How many children in Japan have to go to the hospital each year because of crow attacks?

Adult crows realize that constant cawing will hurt their chances of getting a meal and increase their chances of being eaten by a predator. I wish that my neighbors’ dogs had this kind of sense and the fear of being eaten. Maybe me brandishing a knife and fork, and licking my lips would do the trick?

I like to think of crows as barometers of the shared animal habitats that we call neighborhoods. They give human beings a reasonably good read on our quality of life and how well we dispose of our garbage. Jungle crows are accustomed to living in the mountains, feeding on seeds, insects and small animals — dead or alive.


By Lenora Genovese


However, they also work well in an urban environment. From the perspective of the jungle crow, the city and the forest have similar feels, and vantage points, and they not fussy about the aesthetic differences between the so-called natural environment of forests and the built environment of the city. A dead mouse from the top of a tree and a dead mouse from the top of a building is a dead mouse to be seen, and then eaten.

I would imagine that looking in a crow’s stomach would tell us a lot about how we live and the kinds of food we consume. Japanese waistlines are not the only things that have increased with a steady diet of junk food. So has the number of juvenile crows, which can be measured by their constant cawing.


Jungle Crow Family


Urban crow populations in Japan grew in concert with the increase of consumer garbage in the 1970s. More food in the open meant that crows could rear more chicks. Heaps of garbage from a crow’s-eye view must look pretty tasty. Certainly, the garbage heap in front of our house must look like a 5-star hotel from a crow’s perspective.

Forget about pigs, cows and horses. Crows are our companion species in an industrialized world. Before the transformation of Japanese society from an agrarian to an industrialized, urbanized archipelago, crows’ insides were probably filled with grains. Now? It is more likely they are filled with instant ramen and other processed foods.

Are we what the crows eat?”

[box]About the Author: Colin Tyner lives in Japan and is completing his Ph.D. in history.

This article originally appeared in The Japan Times Weekly: April 24, 2010[/box]

Raven & Crow Tattoos

For many ancient peoples, the raven is a powerful animal totem, a protector,spirit guide, or god.  He’s a shape-shifting messenger and a symbol of transformation.  Black plumage invokes an air of mistique, secrecy, and elegance. The Raven is also a powerful sun symbol. From the earliest times, raven myths tell of its intelligence and concern for humans.  As we wrote about in Mythological Ravens, and Crows in Celtic Mythology, there are plenty of reasons other than sheer love to get a Crow or Raven tattoo.

The most important thing to consider prior to running down to the tattoo shop is what the bird will look like, and who the best artist is for your budget and ability to travel. Tattoos are absolutely forever, so you want to be sure yours is amazing!  Below are a few pointers:

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  • Research your bird choice thoroughly. There is nothing worse than seeing Ravens that are really Choughs (Choughs have orange feet, Ravens don’t)
  • If using a photograph as reference for your artist, it is best to email the photographer for their blessing.
  • If using artwork as reference, you absolutely must get permission from the original artist. This goes double if your tattooer is going to change it at all.
  • Strive for originality. While wonderful galleries exist online such as this one, it is better to think up your own design than get one ‘out of the book’.
  • Decide on a location that will allow your Crow or Raven to breathe. The back, sides, chest, and shoulder are the best.

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To help further inspire you, we have put together a huge Crow and Raven Tattoo Gallery here. (I’ve even snuck a shot of Clara’s raven in there on page 4!)

Crow Tattoo on our reader Christina

Do you have a tattoo you would like to share with our readers? Send it to our wonderful mailbird cawcaw at avesnoir.com!

Here are our ten favorites from the gallery. Choosing was tough!

V

Crow Culture: A Mom’s Point of View

At dinner one night this weekend [my family and I] got to talking about a PBS show on crows (this is what happens when you get a family of nerds together for dinner–they talk about PBS programming). Crows are very family/community oriented and the parent crows work hard to teach their young how to be successful at finding food. There is one species of crow in Japan, apparently, that has taught themselves to place nuts in the middle of the road when the traffic is stopped. The light turns green, cars pass over the nuts, crack the shells, and the crows can feast on the tasty meat inside. Young crows are shown this behavior so they can learn it themselves. Female crows rely on their sisters to help them raise their young–to teach them the tricks of the trade for survival in a human-dominated world. When entire families of crows are killed off, through pesticides or the West Nile Virus, or human intervention, the chain is broken and the young are left to grow up without these important lessons from family members—the lessons they need to survive and flourish in the world.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the crows all weekend while we visited with my parents, or about what a metaphor that story is for what we humans need—if we are to survive and flourish in our own world. Any number of people out there who know more than I do about lots of things say we live in an increasingly selfish world; a place where too many people relinquish their family ties and the time and investment they need to give to them, on self-centered pursuits. It’s become a me culture out there, and we’re raising kids who care only about themselves. They don’t have good examples to follow—examples that might teach them about family commitment, stability, and the importance of investing in legacies that transcend money and real estate and material goods. Families fragment because too many people aren’t willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work they need to do to keep them together; the divorce rate keeps exploding, people move and relocate constantly, we lose sight of our origins: where our parents came from, where we came from, and, as a result, where we need to go. It takes more than actions in the here and now to raise children. A family is built upon the hard work and sacrifice of the people who came before, and the lessons learned from them—from their triumphs and mistakes—that we weave into our own lives.

Maybe we need to be a little more like the crows.

I can’t think of anyone who ends up with exactly the vision of their lives they once imagined when they were six, painting away on a back porch one May morning. I suppose if we were all left to our own devices we could custom-craft our own lives so that they ended up exactly as we wanted them. Maybe. We’d live in tailored bubbles of our own, passing each other gently in the night, yet never quite intersecting, making those connections. But I do know that what we make of our lives is what we put into them; we build on hard work and sacrifice, love, and a community of others—grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles, friends, teachers, and a real sense of commitment to place—a place to look back to so we can see where we began, and where we just might end, too.

[box]Aliki McElreath is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages five and nine), a dog, a cat, and a rabbit. You can visit her blog here[/box]

Crow Divination: Part 3 of 3

In this series, I explore a few ways in which Crows have been seen as fortune tellers, farseers, and omens. Be sure to read Part 1: Divination According to Medicine Men and Part 2: Divination According to the Druids

As we have discussed, the practice of divining from bird calls, properly called auspicy in the English language, appears to actually originate in China. Yet, as narrowly concerned with crows, it would seem the practice is an Indo-Tibetan invention with symbiotic relationship to Chinese methods.

The tradition talked about the most comes to Tibet from India. The first written record is found in the middle sixth century, in the Brihat Samhita by Varahamihira. In the early ninth century we find a Sanskrit text entitled Kakajarita translated by the pandit Danacila into the Tibetan language as Bya-rog-gi skad brtag-par bya-ba, or “Investigating the Cries of Crows.” Through incorporation of this translation into the Tibetan Tanjur, or Buddhist canon, crow auspicy became an established means of divination in Tibet.

Underlying Principles of Crow Augury

Divination through observation of crows in Tibetan tradition is founded on the following principles:

[list]

  • 1. Crows are of varying distinction and intelligence, therefore notice must be taken of the varying classes of crows.
  • 2. Crows respond to events with characteristic behavioral patterns, therefore by noting the character of the response one may learn the character of the event.
  • 3. Crow behavior and response differs according to time of day.
  • 4. The angle of direction between the observer and the crow has significance.

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The general predictions governing crow calls are given as follows, categorized by the time of day and the direction in which the call is observed.

First Watch

6:00 am – 9:00 am

[list]

  • East: Wishes will be fulfilled
  • Southeast: An enemy will approach
  • South: A friend will visit
  • Southwest: Unexpected profit will accrue
  • West: Great wind will rise
  • Northwest: A stranger will appear
  • North: Scattered property will be found
  • Northeast: A woman will come
  • Zenith: A demon will appear

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Second Watch

9:00 am – 12:00 pm

[list]

  • East Near relatives will come
  • South Flowers and areca-nuts obtained
  • Southwest Numerous offspring
  • West You will set out on a distant journey
  • Northwest One king replaced by another
  • North Good news will be received
  • Northeast Disorder breaks out
  • Zenith Fulfillment of your wishes

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Third Watch

12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

[list]

  • East: You will obtain property
  • Southeast: A battle will arise
  • South: A storm will come
  • Southwest: An enemy will come
  • West: A woman will come
  • Northwest: A relative will come
  • North: A good friend will come
  • Northeast: A conflagration breaks out
  • Zenith: You will gain profit by being taken care of by the king

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Fourth Watch

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

[list]

  • East: Great fear predicted
  • Southeast: Great gain coming
  • South: A stranger will come
  • Southwest: A storm will rise in seven days
  • West: Rain and wind will come
  • Northwest: Scattered property found
  • North: A king will appear
  • Northeast: You will obtain rank
  • Zenith: Hunger predicted

[/list]

Sunset

[list]

  • East An enemy appears on the road
  • Southeast A treasure will come to you
  • South You will die of disease
  • Southwest The wishes of one’s heart fulfilled
  • West Relatives will come
  • Northwest Obtaining property predicted
  • North Homage will be done to the king
  • Zenith You will obtain advantage you hoped for

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General Observations

  • Crow on right: good journey
  • Crow behind: you obtain siddhi
  • A crow flapping his wings, calls: great accident
  • Crow pulls human hair: death
  • Crow eats dirty food: food and drink about to come
  • Crow on thornbush: enemy
  • Crow on milksap tree: milkrice to you
  • Crow on withered tree: no food and drink
  • Crow on palace: excellent halting place
  • Crow on divan: enemy will come
  • Crow facing door: peril at frontier
  • Crow pulling dress: dress to you
  • Crow on skull: death
  • Crow with red thread on house: fire

Art by Marie Olofsdotter

Crow Divination Pt 2 of 3

In this series, I explore a few ways in which Crows have been seen as fortune tellers, farseers, and omens. Be sure to read Part 1: Divination According to Medicine Men

Divination According to the Druids

Divination was an important part of pan-Celtic life. The Mediterranean accounts tell of extremely superstitious Celts studying the bloody, warm, still-pulsing entrails of human sacrifices [Tacitus, Strabo], but since both of those authors weren’t what we’d call objective, those accounts may well have been rather highly colored for their target audiences. The use of animal entrails is also controversial, and may not have been commonly practiced.

Druids (Irish female Druids were called bandrui) and especially bards often employed divination, omens, prophecy, certain plants, and altered states of consciousness in order to predict the future. Before uttering their prophecies, the Druids would eat acorns, shut themselves away in a dark place, chant, and in other wise attempt to attain an “ecstatic” visionary state similar to that of the Siberian and Sámi shamans. Specialists performed the more elaborate forms of divination, but ordinary folks could on occasion say sooth, especially on Samhain (Novermber 1). This holiday marked the New Year to the Celts, and auguries were best performed on that day, just as in other cultures, auguries (mostly love, it seems) were performed on January 1. This holiday, according to the records, featured lots of booze. It was also the day upon which one slaughtered pigs. Fires were lit on certain hilltops, and the dead/faerie could walk upon earth, visible even to those who weren’t second-sighted. Maidens on the Isle of Man baked “dumb cake” (soddag valloo) directly on the coals on the hearth; this cake was then eaten in total silence by all the women of the household. Then the ladies retired to their beds, hopefully to dream of their intended lovers and husbands-to-be. If a girl filled her mouth with water and lurked just outside a neighbor’s house, holding salt in each hand, she would hear the name spoken of her future love.

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One Crow for sorrow,

Two Crows for mirth;

Three Crows for a wedding,

Four Crows for a birth;

Five Crows for silver,

Six Crows for gold;

Seven Crows for a secret, not to be told;

Eight Crows for heaven,

Nine Crows for hell;

And ten Crows for the devils own self.

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The crow, black-feathered and fond of carrion, was linked to the Morrigan, sort of a Celtic Valkyrie type “plied” goddess linked with fated death. They hovered over the dying [doubtless to get first crack at the best parts], and could also inform where the best site for building a new settlement or town should be located. It was considered bad luck to have a crow look down the chimney, for that meant that someone within the house was fated to die in the near future.

Another belief was that the birds were faeries who shape-shifted to cause troubles. Magickal qualities included bringing knowledge, shape-shifting, eloquence, prophecy, boldness, skill, knowledge, cunning, trickery and thievery. In the Middle Ages, people believed that sorcerers and witches used the symbol of Crow’s foot to cast death spells.

In most of England, seeing a solitary crow meant anger, but in Northamptonshire, it meant ill fortune. Crow, cawing in a hoarse voice, meant bad weather. A death omen was a crow cawing thrice as it flew over a house. The Irish believed that Crow flocking in trees, but not nesting were souls from Purgatory. Finding a dead crow was a sign of good fortune. Russians believed that witches took the shape of Crow.

Patterning divination was also practiced; as in January 1 auguries, molten lead would be poured slowly into water, and the patterns read for insight into the coming year, or for the trade or skill to be acquired during the coming year. Babies born on Samhain were supposed to be year-round augurs, not date-limited for this ability.

As we may see, the practice of divining from bird calls, properly called auspicy in the English language, appears to actually originate in China. Yet, as narrowly concerned with crows, it would seem the practice is an Indo-Tibetan invention with symbiotic relationship to Chinese methods.  Join us tomorrow for Part 3: Divination According to Tibet.

Visit the Raven Oracle for your own divination!

Crow Divination: Pt 1 of 3

A cool spring rain drizzles down around my mountain abode, and a breeze drifts through my open windows carrying the scent of leaves and roses. Somewhere to the southeast, I hear the calling of my resident crows before one of them alights on my fence.  As he looks at me for a minute, I consider the meaning of his visit. Sitting half a mile above the city in the foothills of the Medvendnica, I can’t help but wax philosophical at least one day a week. Crow is also one of my personal animal totems, reigning over the inner domain, wich assists with keeping me grounded (as I am an Aquarius, that is quite the task).  Interesting that I should have a creature of flight as that which assists me with keeping myself rooted in earth.

If you have a crow as a totem, you need to be willing to walk your talk and speak your truth. You must put aside your fear of being a voice in the wilderness and “caw” the shots as you see them. Crow is an omen of change. If he keeps appearing to you he may be telling you that you have a powerful voice when addressing issues that you do not quite understand or feel that they are out of balance.When you learn to allow your personal integrity to be your guide, your sense of feeling alone will vanish. Your personal will can then emerge so that you will stand in your truth. The prime path of true Crow people says to be mindful of your opinions and actions. Be willing to walk your talk, speak your truth, know your life’s mission, and balance past, present, and future in the now. Shape shift that old reality and become your future self. Allow the bending of physical laws to aid in creating the shape shifted world of peace.

As discussed previously, Crows and Ravens (and sometimes magpies too) have been a consistent source of spiritual focus throughout history. Here, I wish to explore a few ways in which they have been seen as fortune tellers, farseers, and omens.

Divination According to Medicine Men

Crow (Law): There is a medicine story that tells of Crow’s fascination with her own shadow. She kept looking at it, scratching it, pecking at it, until her shadow woke up and became alive. Then Crow’s shadow ate her. Crow is Dead Crow now.

Dead Crow is the Left-Handed Guardian. If you look deeply into Crow’s eye, you will have found the gateway to the supernatural. Crow knows the unknowable mysteries of creation and is the keeper of all sacred law.

Since Crow is the keeper of sacred law, Crow can bend the laws of the physical universe and “shape shift.” This ability is rare and unique. Few adepts exist in today’s world, and fewer still have mastered Crow’s art of shape shifting. This art includes doubling, or being in two places at once time consciously; taking on another physical form, and becoming the “fly on the wall” to observe what is happening far away.

The Europeans that came to Turtle Island were named the “boat people” by Slow Turtle. Even with the knowledge of alchemy possessed by certain boat people, none had ever seen the powerful shape shifting of shamans who utilized Crow medicine. Many boat people were frightened by what appeared to be animals coming into their camps or dwellings to discern their medicine. Crow medicine people are masters of illusion.

All sacred texts are under the protection of Crow. Creator’s Book of Laws or Book of Seals is bound in Crow feathers. Crow feathers tell of spirit made flesh. Crow is also the protector of the “ogallah” or ancient records.

The Sacred Law Belts, or Wampum Belts, beaded by native women long before the boat people or Europeans came to this continent, contain knowledge of the Great Sprit’s laws, and are kept in the Black Lodges, the lodges of women. The law which states that “all things are born of women” is signified by Crow.

Children are taught to behave according to the rules of a particular culture. Most orthodox religious systems create a mandate concerning acceptable behavior within the context of worldly affairs. Do this and so, and you will go to heaven. Do thus and so, and you will go to hell. Different formulas for salvation are demanded by each “true faith.”

Human law is not the same as Sacred Law. More so than any other medicine, Crow sees that the physical world and even the spiritual world, as humanity interprets them, are an illusion. There are billions of worlds. There are an infinitude of creatures. Great Sprit is within all. If an individual obeys Crow’s perfect laws as given by the Creator, then at death he or she dies a Good Medicine death — going on to the next incarnation with a clear memory of his or her past.

Crow is an omen of change. Crow lives in the void and has no sense of time. The Ancient Chiefs tell us that Crow sees simultaneously the three fates – past, present, and future. Crow merges light and darkness, seeing both inner and outer reality.

If Crow medicine appears in your card spread, you must pause and reflect on how you see the laws of the Great Spirit in relation to the laws of humanity. Crow medicine signifies a firsthand knowledge of a higher order of right and wrong than indicated by the laws created in human culture. With Crow medicine, you speak in a powerful voice when addressing issues that for you seem out of harmony, out of balance, out of whack, or unjust.

Remember that Crow looks at the world with first one eye, then the other – cross-eyed. In the Mayan culture, cross-eyeds had the privilege and duty of looking into the future. You must put aside your fear of being a voice in the wilderness and “caw” the shots as you see them.

Check back in tomorrow for Part 2: Divination According to the Druids

[box]Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through Animals by Jamie Sams & David Carson
Crow Augery by William L. Cassidy
Lonigan, Paul R. (1996). The Druids: Priests of the Ancient Celts. Contributions to the Study of Religion, No. 45. Westport (CT): Greenwood Press.
O’Sullivan, Patrick V. (1991). Irish Superstitions and Legends of Animals and Birds. Cork: Mercier.
[/box]

The Raven of Matyas Corvinus

In the middle of the 15th century, Hungary had bad luck hanging on to its foreign kings: Two of them died unexpectedly within seven years. They suffered amidst plague, treachery, and foreign encroachment and seemed all but doomed to lose their hold on bloodline and border.At this dark moment, the Hungarians looked to a 15 year old boy, Mátyás (or Matthias in English) for salvation. According to legend, Matthias’ mother sent for him with a raven with a ring in its beak. The raven supposedly flew non-stop from Transylvania to Prague and thus the boy king of Ravens was crowned. The raven-with-ring motif became part of the family crest, as well as the family name: Corvinus (Latin for “raven”).

Matthias Corvinus returned to Buda, becoming the first Hungarian-descended king in more than 150 years. Progressive and well-educated in the Humanist tradition, Matthias Corvinus (r. 1458–1490) was the quintessential Renaissance king. A lover of the Italian Renaissance, he patronized the arts and built palaces legendary for their beauty. Also a benefactor of the poor, he dressed up as a commoner and ventured into the streets to see firsthand how the nobles of his realm treated his people.

Matthias was a strong, savvy leader. He created Central Europe’s first standing army — 30,000 mercenaries known as the Black Army. No longer reliant on the nobility for military support, Good King Matthias was able to drain power from the nobles and make taxation of his subjects more equitable — earning him the nickname the “people’s king.”(1)

King Matthias was also a shrewd military tactician. Realizing that squabbling with the Ottomans would squander his resources, he made peace with the Ottoman sultan to stabilize Hungary’s southern border. Then he swept north, invading Moravia, Bohemia, and even Austria. By 1485, Matthias moved into his new palace in Vienna, and Hungary was enjoying a golden age.

Five years later, Matthias died mysteriously at the age of 47, and his empire disintegrated. It is said that when Matthias died, justice died with him. To this day, Hungarians consider him the greatest of all kings, and they sing of his siege of Vienna in their national anthem. They’re proud that for a few decades in the middle of half a millennium of foreign oppression, they had a truly Hungarian king — and a great one at that.

Today, statues of the raven with the ring in its mouth can be seen around Budapest.

(1) Rick Steves Eastern Europe

Edgar the Hybrid Raven

She is an artist, singer, corvidologist, and former stunt woman., but most of all Debbie Porter is probably one of the most popular and adored corvid connoisseurs of the internet. She is a dedicated mom to several crows and ravens (and cats, pigs, and humans too) and her hybrid raven, Edgar, has his own facebook page as well as a multitude of Youtube followers!  We previously featured Edgar in our spot on the difference between Ravens and Crows.  Be sure to check it out if you have further curiosity about what makes Edgar a Hybrid (and no, it isn’t a hydrogen feul cell!)

We wanted you, our dear readers, to have this opportunity to enjoy Debbie’s perspective on corvids and what it is like living with them in this exclusive interview. To kick off your lazy Sunday evening, let me first introduce you properly:

Edgar Says Hello

Says Debbie ,”Edgar is EXTREMELY intelligent, more so than any of my birds…maybe because I only had 4 crows when I got him, and I was able to spend more time with him.  At any rate, he is a spoiled brat!  If I am petting him, and I even SAY the name of another bird, he pecks me.  He’s very possessive of me.  He has to drink out of my glasses and bottles, and eat whatever I’m eating.  No  matter how hard I try to hide something from Edgar, he will find it.  I can’t leave him alone in a room, it will look like a tornado hit when I come back.   But he comes to me when he is called.  He looks me right in the eye when I am talking to him, or when he is saying “Hello” to me.  He’s like a person.  I call him my jealous husband.  He knows how to open doors.  He flies all over my two story house.  He likes to pull the cats and dogs tails.  But he can also be the sweetest, most gentle boy you’ve ever seen.  He brings me things, like carpet fibers that he knows I don’t want him to have and gives them to me.  He talks and sings and aria.  He is just the greatest gift a girl could ever have.”

Edgar Sings

Edgar Eats  Breakfast

Cheerios aren’t the only thing Edgar loves. Debbie says he will eat absolutely anything!  Don’t worry though, on  a regular basis, has a steady diet of Science Diet Puppy Chow.

“I don’t give him chocolate or avocados, because I’ve heard they’re not good for birds. He gets the carcass of cooked turkeys, hard-boiled eggs, shell and all, they all love Nacho Cheese Doritos, Cheerios, dog treats.  I allow them to eat anything, but because they are in an indoor aviary… I don’t give them raw meat in fear of salmonella.”

Debbie, retired,  currently rehabilitates crows from the comfort of her home aviary. When asked what inspired her passion, she says, “I actually did not like crows. “

“We didn’t have ravens in the San Fernando Valley where I lived, and the crows would gather in a large tree that I had in my front yard to roost, and you can imagine how loud that was!  Plus, they pooped on my cars.

But one day, when I went out in my back yard to give my dogs some water, I saw something black under the rabbit hutch.  I thought ‘Oh no, a dead crow.’ and I didn’t want to deal with it.  But he was still alive.  He let me pick him up without pecking me or any resistance, so I took him to the vet.  I signed in, and sat down to wait.  I promised him  he would be OK.

For some reason it was taking like an hour, and everyone was going in for treatment but me, so I went up to the desk to find out why, and there was some kind of mix-up.  In the big scheme of things now, looking back I can see that it gave me time to bond with this beautiful creature. He had been shot, and his wing was not repairable.  They wanted to put him down, but I said no.  He ended up having his wing amputated.  I named him Crow and he was a happy guy, but ornery!  A week later someone called me about a crow that had been hit by a car.  He too, had to have a wing amputated.  I named him Speedbump.  They were like Oscar and Felix in the Odd Couple.

Veterinarians got word that I cared for crows, so I started getting calls from vets regarding injured babies.  When I got Ricky as a nestling, he was covered in Avian Pox.  It was so sad, cuz he was such a cute determined little guy.  Another vet called me soon after and had a crow baby that had fallen and looked half-dead.  He stilled needed gavage, so I went to visit his limp little body at the vet’s every day and prayed over him.  He recovered, but also had Avian Pox and lost a foot from his fall.  I named him Moses (although I think Moses has more the personality of a she).  I don’t know the sex of any of  my birds except Edgar because he came from a breeder, and my crow, Jack, because she lays eggs (Jack came to me from a friend who felt Jack was lonely at home all day).”

When asked how old her birds are, Debbie repied, “My original babies are now 5 and 6.  Ricky had no example to teach him to fly, so he would stand on the floor and pivot on one foot flapping his wings just going around in a circle!  Edgar is now 4 years old.  They become sexually mature at 3 years old.”

Keeping Crows or Ravens as pets is no easy task, and should only be done if you have ample space, experience, and most of all – time.

“Crows are very social.  If you get one, make sure you get another to keep it company.  Read up on the social structure that crow families keep and you will understand.  Don’t insult their intelligence; like a parrot they need to be mentally stimulated with interesting toys and puzzles, and they don’t forget when you do something bad to them.  They are so smart they will blow your mind, and you don’t have to split their tongues to make them talk.  I have 12 out of 13 corvids that say human words and phrases.  If you are near water, please be aware of the dangers of West Nile Virus, that’s why I keep mine inside.  Make sure that they are caged in a big enough space.  Mine play catch with little play balls and jacks; engage with them.  But most of all remember; no matter how tame they may seem, they are STILL wild animals, so be on guard when they are  near your eyes or little children and pets!”

Edgar Destroys the Couch

At the end of the day, Debbie’s contribution to the world via her prolific celebration of these birds is something to be admired by all.  Her magical connection with her birds is hopefully an inspiration to those of you who love Ravens.  There are several ways you can get close to them in your community, such as volunteering for your local Audubon or Wildlife Rehabiliation Center, or take Cornell Lab’s Bird Study Course.

There is NOTHING like having a wild animal close to you and looking you in the eyes adoringly.  People that think animals don’t have emotions have just never connected with one.  Edgar , Reno (raven), Ricky and Moses all look me in the eye like they love me, and bill clack at me like they’re trying to tell me something.”

To keep up with Debbie and Edgar, head over to Corvidae: Crows & Ravens . You can also support her aviary by treating yourself to any of her delightful crow themed goods here.