Crows and ravens are generally (and understandably) described as birds with black plumage. It is their darkness that allows them to grace the sky with such striking calligraphy.
Formal sentences composed on wires; more fluid, improvisational characters when taking to the air.
But it’s so much more complicated, and beautiful, than that.
Crow and raven feathers are highly iridescent. They collect and reflect the light and the colour of the world around them. Gunmetal storm clouds, cornflower blue summer skies, the fire of the rising or setting sun — all paint their feathers with fleeting shades of indigo, lavender, copper and gold.
These reflected shades are often featured in my photography and jewellery, so I think of, and marvel at, corvid hues often.
Sometimes I wonder, idly, about how many colours you could actually find in a crow or a raven’s feathers.
Imagine my surprise when a computer glitch answered my question.
I recently downloaded a batch of photos taken of a crow (Vera) in my garden. I use software called Bridge to organize my images. It allows me to see the images from my camera in thumbnail size, like an old fashioned contact sheet. It’s handy to see at a glance what’s there and do a quick edit.
I was amazed to see that some of the Vera images had been randomly translated by Bridge into, part normal photo, and part digital sampling of the colours in the photo.
At a glance, I see lavender, lilac, violet, mauve, periwinkle, indigo, charcoal, forest green, sand, pearl, slate — hardly any black, in fact.
It was an ephemeral glitch, but I managed to “capture” a couple of versions.
Quasi-scientific proof that a crow is not just a black bird.
11 thoughts on “The Colour of Crows”
Very nicely done June. Thanks
They do glow.
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Thank you for enlightening me about crows and their iridescent feathers. I was painting a crow and made the photograph lighter to be able to see the feathers better and there it was glorious iridescence! No where else was I able to verify that I was right in painting in indigo and lavender. Just now I found this site and see I can actually leave the show of colors and have it live. Thank you.
your images of crows are gorgeous! one day i saw at least 50 take flight all at once and at one point, their sheen was a blue irridescent i can still see, clear as day. blink blink. one of those little gifts the cosmos drops on a person lucky enough to notice.
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Great article with beautiful pictures!
makes me weepy, so much beauty . . .
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