In contrast to the rather peaceful imagery of Crow Calligraphy, where corvid nesting behaviour evoked the peaceful strokes of Japanese brush painting — this post is more Sam Peckinpah meets Hieronymus Bosch.
I usually don’t like the term “murder” to describe a group of crows.
Rather prejudicial, I always think. In the case of this gathering, however, it seemed apt.
Incredibly, (spoiler alert) all participants in this brawl did walk away — but the ferocity was something I’d never seen in my all years of crow-watching.
The crows are pretty fractious at this time of year. All of that bucolic nest building has the side effect of making them hyper-sensitive to territorial infringements, — by traditional foes (raven, eagle, cat, racoon, coyote) — or their fellow crows.
On Sunday morning the crows were particularly loud. I assumed it was the usual group protest directed at the new raven in the neighbourhood.
I was first preoccupied with the raven, who seemed especially oblivious to the crows on this particular morning . She carefully ran through a full repertoire of calls and meticulously groomed her lovely feathers.
The crows weren’t bothering to swoop and harass her, and I noticed that their anger seemed focussed elsewhere. I walked over that way to see what was bothering them.
Just then, all hell broke loose. From a distance, it looked like a muscular black feather duster exploding in the middle of the alley way.
As I got closer the individual participants in the melée became more distinct.
It seems that two or three crows are at the centre of the brawl, with one of them pinned to the ground.
The fighters are surrounded by a vociferous crowd — like a scene from Gladiator, with some Hogarthian figures passing judgement from the sidelines.
Just as I was thinking that this fight might need a human referee, a corvid one seemed to step in. Abruptly the flapping stopped and “discussion” resumed..
Miraculously, the combatants, aside from some ruffled feathers, looked relatively unscathed.
Indignant, but uninjured.
Eventually the tribunal concluded and all participants went back to their own territories. There they resumed the more tranquil business of finding just the right twig to complete the perfect nest.