What's in a name? Ever wonder why or how people came up with names for birds? I do. We all know a large group of birds is called a flock. But certain groups of birds were given different names to describe their gatherings. For example, a gathering of Geese is called " a Gaggle of Geese" a gathering of Owls is called "a Parliament of Owls" and a gathering of Crows is called " a Murder of Crows". Why did the Crow get such a sinister name? Well folk lore says they were given this name because of the Crows appetite for carrion. But the Crow doesn't kill squirrels or rabbits they just cleanup the left overs of road kill or from four legged predators. Unfortunately Crows got a bad rap for their culinary choices.
The American Crow is actually a very intelligent bird. I know this from personal experiences with a family of Crows ( I can't bring myself to call them a Murder) that live in my yard. For the past few years they have built a large nest in the tall pine trees in the back wood lot. And I swear they recognize me! I have an old leaky bird bath that I use as a feeder for birds since it doesn't hold water any more. I usually put out stale bread or cereal etc rather than throw it away and I also add seed and cracked corn in the Winter.
The Crows will sit in the tree above the bird bath and call out Caw! Caw! Caw! if there is no food out. Even when I walk out to put something in the bird bath they will sit on the branches above me and cock their heads as if inspecting my offerings. They seem to know my schedule too, when I get home from work and check the mailbox at the end of our driveway there is often one sitting in the pine watching me as I get the mail. As I drive up our long driveway I've even looked in my rear view mirror and seen the Crow flying up the driveway behind me. Like it knows I am the one who leaves them food, when I get out of the car the Crow will Caw! Caw! Caw! at me while flying overhead. It's like it is saying " What's for dinner?"
They are undoubtedly a very noisy and social bird species. But I have really enjoyed having a family of 8 living in my yard. Watching them raise a family and teach their young the ways of the world. Even when four or five gather at the feeder they never fight, they take turns snatching a piece of bread and flying off to sit on a branch and eat. I've watched an adult grab a piece of bread and walk over to a young bird and offer it to them. So what's in a name? A Murder of Crows? Not my family of Crows!!!