Crow

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Crows form the genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Corvus in the family Corvidae
Corvidae
Corvidae is a cosmopolitan family of oscine passerine birds that contains the crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs and nutcrackers. The common English names used are corvids or the crow family , and there are over 120 species...

. Ranging in size from the relatively small pigeon
Dove
Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family Columbidae within the order Columbiformes, which include some 300 species of near passerines. In general terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably...

-size jackdaw
Jackdaw
The Jackdaw , sometimes known as the Eurasian Jackdaw, European Jackdaw or Western Jackdaw, is a passerine bird in the crow family. Found across Europe, western Asia and North Africa, it is mostly sedentary, although northern and eastern populations migrate south in winter. Four subspecies are...

s (Eurasian and Daurian
Daurian Jackdaw
The Daurian Jackdaw is a member of the Corvidae or crow family of birds. It is closely related to the Eurasian Jackdaw. The name derives from the Dauria region of eastern Russia....

) to the Common Raven
Common Raven
The Common Raven , also known as the Northern Raven, is a large, all-black passerine bird. Found across the northern hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids...

 of the Holarctic
Holarctic
The Holarctic ecozone refers to the habitats found throughout the northern continents of the world as a whole. This region is divided into the Palearctic, consisting of Northern Africa and all of Eurasia, with the exception of Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and the Nearctic,...

 region and Thick-billed Raven
Thick-billed Raven
The Thick-billed Raven , a Corvid from the Horn of Africa, shares with the Common Raven the distinction of being the largest in the Corvid family, and indeed the largest of the bird order Passeriformes . They measure 60-64 cm in length and weigh 1.5 kg...

 of the highlands of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, the 40 or so members of this genus occur on all temperate continent
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

s (except South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

) and several offshore and oceanic islands (including Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

). In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the word "crow" is used to refer to the American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
American Crow
The American Crow is a large passerine bird species of the family Corvidae. It is a common bird found throughout much of North America...

.

The crow genus makes up a third of the species in the Corvidae
Corvidae
Corvidae is a cosmopolitan family of oscine passerine birds that contains the crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs and nutcrackers. The common English names used are corvids or the crow family , and there are over 120 species...

 family. Other corvids include rook
Rook (bird)
The Rook is a member of the Corvidae family in the passerine order of birds. Named by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, the species name frugilegus is Latin for "food-gathering"....

s and jay
Jay
The jays are several species of medium-sized, usually colorful and noisy, passerine birds in the crow family Corvidae. The names jay and magpie are somewhat interchangeable, and the evolutionary relationships are rather complex...

s. Crows appear to have evolved in Asia from the corvid stock, which had evolved in Australia. A group of crows is called a flock or a murder, because the group will sometimes kill a dying crow.

Recent research has found some crow species capable not only of tool use but of tool construction as well. Crows are now considered to be among the world's most intelligent
Animal cognition
Animal cognition is the title given to the study of the mental capacities of non-human animals. It has developed out of comparative psychology, but has also been strongly influenced by the approach of ethology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary psychology...

 animals. The Jackdaw
Jackdaw
The Jackdaw , sometimes known as the Eurasian Jackdaw, European Jackdaw or Western Jackdaw, is a passerine bird in the crow family. Found across Europe, western Asia and North Africa, it is mostly sedentary, although northern and eastern populations migrate south in winter. Four subspecies are...

 and (along with its fellow corvid, the European Magpie) has been found to have a neostriatum approximately the same relative size as is found in chimpanzees and humans, and significantly larger than is found in the gibbon
Gibbon
Gibbons are apes in the family Hylobatidae . The family is divided into four genera based on their diploid chromosome number: Hylobates , Hoolock , Nomascus , and Symphalangus . The extinct Bunopithecus sericus is a gibbon or gibbon-like ape which, until recently, was thought to be closely related...

.

Description



Corvus species are all black or black with some white or gray plumage. They are stout with strong bills and legs. The sexes differ little in appearance.

Evolutionary history and systematics



Crows appear to have evolve
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

d in central Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and radiated out into North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

.

The latest evidence regarding the crow's evolution indicates descent within the Australasian family Corvidae. However, the branch that would produce the modern groups such as jays, magpies and large predominantly black Corvus had left Australasia
Australasia
Australasia is a region of Oceania comprising Australia, New Zealand, the island of New Guinea, and neighbouring islands in the Pacific Ocean. The term was coined by Charles de Brosses in Histoire des navigations aux terres australes...

 and were concentrated in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 by the time the Corvus evolved. Corvus has since re-entered Australia (relatively recently) and produced five species with one recognized sub-species.

The genus was originally described by Linnaeus
Carolus Linnaeus
Carl Linnaeus , also known after his ennoblement as , was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology...

 in his 18th century work Systema Naturae
Systema Naturae
The book was one of the major works of the Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician Carolus Linnaeus. The first edition was published in 1735...

. The name is derived from the Latin corvus meaning "raven".

The type species
Type species
In biological nomenclature, a type species is both a concept and a practical system which is used in the classification and nomenclature of animals and plants. The value of a "type species" lies in the fact that it makes clear what is meant by a particular genus name. A type species is the species...

 is the Common Raven
Common Raven
The Common Raven , also known as the Northern Raven, is a large, all-black passerine bird. Found across the northern hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids...

 (Corvus corax); others named in the same work include the Carrion Crow
Carrion Crow
The Carrion Crow is a member of the passerine order of birds and the crow family which is native to western Europe and eastern Asia.-Taxonomy:...

 (C. corone), the Hooded Crow
Hooded Crow
The Hooded Crow is a Eurasian bird species in the crow genus. Widely distributed, it is also known locally as Scotch Crow, Danish Crow, and Corbie or Grey Crow in Ireland, which is what its Welsh name, Brân Lwyd, translates as...

 (C. cornix), the Rook
Rook (bird)
The Rook is a member of the Corvidae family in the passerine order of birds. Named by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, the species name frugilegus is Latin for "food-gathering"....

 (C. frugilegus), and the Jackdaw
Jackdaw
The Jackdaw , sometimes known as the Eurasian Jackdaw, European Jackdaw or Western Jackdaw, is a passerine bird in the crow family. Found across Europe, western Asia and North Africa, it is mostly sedentary, although northern and eastern populations migrate south in winter. Four subspecies are...

 (C. monedula). The genus was originally broader, as the Magpie
Magpie
Magpies are passerine birds of the crow family, Corvidae.In Europe, "magpie" is often used by English speakers as a synonym for the European Magpie, as there are no other magpies in Europe outside Iberia...

 was designated C. pica before later being moved into a genus of its own. There are now considered to be at least 42 extant species in this genus, and at least 14 extinct species have been described.

There is not a good systematic approach to the genus at present. In general, it is assumed that the species from a geographical area are more closely related to each other than to other lineages, but this is not necessarily correct. For example, while the Carrion/Collared/House Crow complex is certainly closely related to each other, the situation is not at all clear regarding the Australian/Melanesian species. Furthermore, as many species are similar in appearance, determining actual range and characteristics can be very difficult, such as in Australia where the five (possibly six) species are almost identical in appearance.
The fossil record of crows is rather dense in Europe, but the relationships among most prehistoric species are not clear. The latest evidence appears to point towards an Australasian origin for the early family (Corvidae) though the branch that would produce the modern groups such as jays, magpies and large predominantly black Corvus, Crows had left Australasia and were now developing in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. Corvus has since re-entered Australia (relatively recently) and produced five species with one recognized sub-species.

A surprisingly high number of species have become extinct after human colonization, especially of island groups such as New Zealand, Hawaii and Greenland.

Calls



Crows make a wide variety of calls or vocalizations. Whether the crows' system of communication constitutes a language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 is a topic of debate and study. Crows have also been observed to respond to calls of other species; this behavior is, it is presumed, learned because it varies regionally. Crows' vocalizations are complex and poorly understood. Some of the many vocalizations that crows make are a "Koww", usually echoed back and forth between birds, a series of "Kowws" in discrete units, counting out numbers, a long caw followed by a series of short caws (usually made when a bird takes off from a perch), an echo-like "eh-aw" sound, and more. These vocalizations vary by species, and within each species vary regionally. In many species, the pattern and number of the numerical vocalizations have been observed to change in response to events in the surroundings (i.e. arrival or departure of crows). Crows can hear sound frequencies lower than those that humans can hear, which complicates the study of their vocalizations.

Intelligence


As a group, crows show remarkable examples of intelligence. Crows and ravens often score very highly on intelligence tests. Certain species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 top the avian IQ scale. Wild hooded crows in Israel have learned to use bread crumbs for bait-fishing. Crows will engage in a kind of mid-air jousting
Jousting
Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two knights mounted on horses and using lances, often as part of a tournament.Jousting emerged in the High Middle Ages based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. The first camels tournament was staged in 1066, but jousting itself did not...

, or air-"chicken" to establish pecking order. Crows have been found to engage in feats such as tool use, the ability to hide and store food across seasons, episodic-like memory, and the ability to use individual experience in predicting the behavior of environmental conspecifics.

One species, the New Caledonian Crow
New Caledonian Crow
The New Caledonian Crow is a tool-using species of crow endemic to New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands. These crows are some of the only non-primate animals known to invent new tools by modifying existing ones, and then passing these innovations on to other individuals in the cultural group...

, has also been intensively studied recently because of its ability to manufacture and use its own tool
Tool
A tool is a device that can be used to produce an item or achieve a task, but that is not consumed in the process. Informally the word is also used to describe a procedure or process with a specific purpose. Tools that are used in particular fields or activities may have different designations such...

s in the day-to-day search for food. These tools include 'knives' cut from stiff leaves and stiff stalks of grass. Another skill involves dropping tough nuts into a trafficked street and waiting for a car to crush them open. On October 5, 2007, researchers from the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 presented data acquired by mounting tiny video cameras on the tails of New Caledonian Crows. It turned out that they use a larger variety of tools than previously known, plucking, smoothing, and bending twigs and grass stems to procure a variety of foodstuffs. Crows in Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 have learned how to eat the toxic cane toad
Cane Toad
The Cane Toad , also known as the Giant Neotropical Toad or Marine Toad, is a large, terrestrial true toad which is native to Central and South America, but has been introduced to various islands throughout Oceania and the Caribbean...

 by flipping the cane toad on its back and violently stabbing the throat where the skin is thinner, allowing the crow to access the non-toxic innards; their long beaks ensure that all of the innards can be removed.

Recent research suggests that crows have the ability to recognize one individual human from another by facial features.

Disease


The American crow is very susceptible to the recently introduced North American strain of West Nile virus
West Nile virus
West Nile virus is a virus of the family Flaviviridae. Part of the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of viruses, it is found in both tropical and temperate regions. It mainly infects birds, but is known to infect humans, horses, dogs, cats, bats, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels, domestic...

. American crows usually die within one week of acquiring the disease with only very few surviving exposure. Crows are so affected by the disease that their deaths are now serving as an indicator of the West Nile Virus’ activity in an area.

Conservation status



Two species of crow have been listed as endangered by the US fish and wildlife services: The ʻAlalā
Hawaiian Crow
The Hawaiian Crow or Alalā is a species of bird in the crow family, Corvidae. It is about the size of the Carrion Crow at in length, but with more rounded wings and a much thicker bill. It has soft, brownish-black plumage and long, bristly throat feathers; the feet, legs and bill are black...

 and the Mariana Crow
Mariana Crow
The Mariana Crow is a species of the crow family from the north Pacific. It is an endangered species which has steadily declined in numbers since the 1960s.-Description:...

.
The American Crow
American Crow
The American Crow is a large passerine bird species of the family Corvidae. It is a common bird found throughout much of North America...

, despite having its population reduced by 45% since 1999 by the West Nile Virus, is considered a Species of Least Concern
Least Concern
Least Concern is an IUCN category assigned to extant taxon or lower taxa which have been evaluated but do not qualify for any other category. As such they do not qualify as threatened, Near Threatened, or Conservation Dependent...

.

Hunting


In the United States it is legal to hunt crows in all states usually from around August to the end of March and anytime if they are causing a nuisance or health hazard. There is no bag limit when taken during the "crow hunting season." According to the US Code of Federal Regulations, crows may be taken without a permit in certain circumstances. USFWS
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is a federal government agency within the United States Department of the Interior dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats...

 50 CFR
Code of Federal Regulations
The Code of Federal Regulations is the codification of the general and permanent rules and regulations published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government of the United States.The CFR is published by the Office of the Federal Register, an agency...

 21.43 (Depredation order for blackbirds, cowbirds, grackles, crows and magpies) states that a Federal permit is not required to control these birds "when found committing or about to commit depredations upon ornamental or shade trees, agricultural crops, livestock, or wildlife, or when concentrated in such numbers and manner as to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance," provided
  • that none of the birds killed or their parts are sold or offered for sale,

  • that anyone exercising the privileges granted by this section shall permit any Federal or State game agent free and unrestricted access over the premises where the operations have been or are conducted and will provide them with whatever information required by the officer, and

  • that nothing in the section authorizes the killing of such birds contrary to any State laws and that the person needs to possess whatever permit as may be required by the State.


  • In the UK, the crow is considered a pest when in a large community and under certain conditions can be shot under a number of general licences issued by Natural England
    Natural England
    Natural England is the non-departmental public body of the UK government responsible for ensuring that England's natural environment, including its land, flora and fauna, freshwater and marine environments, geology and soils, are protected and improved...

    .

    In human culture



    The Common Raven
    Common Raven
    The Common Raven , also known as the Northern Raven, is a large, all-black passerine bird. Found across the northern hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids...

    , Australian Raven
    Australian Raven
    The Australian Raven is the largest Australian member of the genus Corvus and one of three Australian species commonly known as ravens. It is a more slender bird than the Common Raven of the Northern Hemisphere but is otherwise similar...

     and Carrion Crow
    Carrion Crow
    The Carrion Crow is a member of the passerine order of birds and the crow family which is native to western Europe and eastern Asia.-Taxonomy:...

     have been blamed for killing weak lambs and are often seen eating freshly dead corpses probably killed by other means. Rooks
    Rook (bird)
    The Rook is a member of the Corvidae family in the passerine order of birds. Named by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, the species name frugilegus is Latin for "food-gathering"....

     have been blamed for eating grain in the UK and Brown-necked Raven
    Brown-necked Raven
    The Brown-necked Raven is a larger bird than the Carrion Crow though not as large as the Common Raven. It has similar proportions to the common raven but the bill is not so large or deep and the wings tend to be a little more pointed in profile...

     for raiding date crops in desert countries.

    In Auburn, New York (USA), 25,000 to 50,000 American Crows (C. brachyrhynchos) have taken to roosting in the small city's large trees during winter since around 1993. In 2003, a controversial, organized crow hunt proved ineffective at reducing their numbers and the problem (concerns for public health and the sheer noise of so many crows) continues.

    At a Technology Entertainment Design conference
    TED (conference)
    TED is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, formed to disseminate "ideas worth spreading"....

     in March 2008, Joshua Klein
    Joshua Klein
    Joshua Klein is a technologist who uses systems thinking to create alternative methods of succeeding in divergent fields. He is most widely known for his project designed to train crows to fetch lost change, but has also used this method to write two books , participate in several startups, work...

     presented the potential use of a vending machine
    Vending machine
    A vending machine is a machine which dispenses items such as snacks, beverages, alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets, consumer products and even gold and gems to customers automatically, after the customer inserts currency or credit into the machine....

     for crows. He suggested the crows could be trained to pick up waste
    Waste
    Waste is unwanted or useless materials. In biology, waste is any of the many unwanted substances or toxins that are expelled from living organisms, metabolic waste; such as urea, sweat or feces. Litter is waste which has been disposed of improperly...

     and the vending machine would be designed to give a reward in exchange for the trash.

    Crows have also been known to imitate the human voice
    Human voice
    The human voice consists of sound made by a human being using the vocal folds for talking, singing, laughing, crying, screaming, etc. Its frequency ranges from about 60 to 7000 Hz. The human voice is specifically that part of human sound production in which the vocal folds are the primary...

    , just like parrot
    Parrot
    Parrots, also known as psittacines , are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three families: the Psittacidae , the Cacatuidae and the Strigopidae...

    s. Crows that have been trained to "speak" are considered valuable in parts of East Asia
    East Asia
    East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

    , as crows are a sign of luck.

    Some people have adopted crows as pet
    Pet
    A pet is a household animal kept for companionship and a person's enjoyment, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful...

    s.

    Though humans cannot generally tell individual crows apart, crows have been shown to have the ability to visually recognize individual humans, and to transmit information about "bad" humans by squawking.

    Myth and spirituality



    In Irish mythology
    Irish mythology
    The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity, but much of it was preserved, shorn of its religious meanings, in medieval Irish literature, which represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branch and the Historical Cycle. There are...

    , crows are associated with Morrigan
    Morrígan
    The Morrígan or Mórrígan , also written as Morrígu or in the plural as Morrígna, and spelt Morríghan or Mór-Ríoghain in Modern Irish, is a figure from Irish mythology who appears to have once been a goddess, although she is not explicitly referred to as such in the texts.The Morrigan is a goddess...

    , the goddess of war and death.

    In Norse mythology
    Norse mythology
    Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

    , Huginn and Muninn are a pair of raven
    Common Raven
    The Common Raven , also known as the Northern Raven, is a large, all-black passerine bird. Found across the northern hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids...

    s that fly all over the world, Midgard
    Midgard
    Midgard is one of the Nine Worlds and is an old Germanic name for our world and is the home of Humans, with the literal meaning "middle enclosure".-Etymology:...

    , and bring the god Odin
    Odin
    Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

     information.

    In Australian Aboriginal mythology
    Australian Aboriginal mythology
    Australian Aboriginal myths are the stories traditionally performed by Aboriginal peoples within each of the language groups across Australia....

    , Crow
    Crow (Australian Aboriginal mythology)
    In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Crow is a trickster, culture hero and ancestral being. In the Kulin nation in central Victoria he was known as Waa and was regarded as one of two moiety ancestors, the other being the more sombre eaglehawk Bunjil...

     is a trickster
    Trickster
    In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. It is suggested by Hansen that the term "Trickster" was probably first used in this...

    , culture hero
    Culture hero
    A culture hero is a mythological hero specific to some group who changes the world through invention or discovery...

     and ancestral being. Legends relating to Crow have been observed in various Aboriginal language groups and cultures across Australia; these commonly include stories relating to Crow's role in the theft of fire, the origin of death and the killing of Eagle's son.


    In the Epic of Gilgamesh
    Epic of Gilgamesh
    Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

    , the Chaldean myth, the character Utnapishtim releases a dove
    Dove
    Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family Columbidae within the order Columbiformes, which include some 300 species of near passerines. In general terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably...

     and a raven to find land, however, the dove merely circles and returns. Only then does Utnapishtim send forth the raven, who does not return. Utnapishtim extrapolates from this that the raven has found land, which is why it hasn't returned.

    According to Ovid's Metamorphoses, in classical Greek mythology
    Greek mythology
    Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

    , when the crow told the god Apollo
    Apollo
    Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

     that his lover Coronis
    Coronis (Greek mythology)
    There are several characters in Greek mythology by the name Coronis . These include:*Coronis , daughter of Phlegyas, King of the Lapiths, was one of Apollo's lovers. While Apollo was away, Coronis, already pregnant with Asclepius, fell in love with Ischys, son of Elatus...

     was cheating on him with a mortal, he became very angry, and part of that anger was directed at the crow, whose feathers he turned from white to black.

    In the Story of Bhusunda, a chapter of the Yoga Vasistha
    Yoga Vasistha
    Yoga Vasistha is a Hindu spiritual text traditionally attributed to Valmiki. It recounts a discourse of the sage Vasistha to a young Prince Rama, during a period when the latter is in a dejected state...

    , a very old sage in the form of a crow, Bhusunda, recalls a succession of epochs in the earth's history, as described in Hindu cosmology
    Hindu cosmology
    In Hindu cosmology the universe is, according to Hindu mythology and Vedic cosmology, cyclically created and destroyed.-Description:The Hindu cosmology and timeline is the closest to modern scientific timelines and even more which might indicate that the Big Bang is not the beginning of everything...

    . He survived several destructions, living on a wish-fulfilling tree
    Kalpavriksha
    Kalpavriksha , also known as kalpataru, kalpadruma and kalpapādapa, is a mythological, wish-fulfilling divine tree said to fulfill all desires. It was mentioned in Sanskrit literature from the earliest sources onwards...

     on Mount Meru.

    Crows are mentioned often in Buddhism
    Buddhism
    Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

    , especially Tibetan disciplines. The Dharmapala (protector of the Dharma) Mahakala
    Mahakala
    Mahākāla is a Dharmapala in Vajrayana Buddhism, and a deity in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, particularly in the Vajrayana school. He is known as Daheitian in Chinese and Daikokuten in Japanese...

     is represented by a crow in one of his physical/earthly forms. Avalokiteśvara
    Avalokitesvara
    Avalokiteśvara is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. He is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism....

    /Chenrezig, who is reincarnated on Earth as the Dalai Lama
    Dalai Lama
    The Dalai Lama is a high lama in the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The name is a combination of the Mongolian word далай meaning "Ocean" and the Tibetan word bla-ma meaning "teacher"...

    , is often closely associated with the crow because it is said that when the first Dalai Lama was born, robbers attacked the family home. The parents fled and were unable to get to the infant Lama in time. When they returned the next morning expecting the worst, they found their home untouched, and a pair of crows were caring for the Dalai Lama. It is believed that crows heralded the birth of the First, Seventh, Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth Lamas, the latter being the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

    In Japanese mythology
    Japanese mythology
    Japanese mythology is a system of beliefs that embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculturally based folk religion. The Shinto pantheon comprises innumerable kami...

    , a three-legged crow called is depicted. In Korean mythology
    Korean mythology
    Korean mythology consists of national legends and folk-tales which come from all over the Korean Peninsula. Even within the same ethnic group, myths tend to have slightly different variations...

    , there is a three-legged crow known as Samjokgo (hangul: 삼족오; hanja: 三足烏). During the period of the Goguryeo Kingdom, the Samjogo was a highly regarded symbol of power, thought superior to both the dragon and the Korean phoenix.
    In Chinese mythology
    Chinese mythology
    Chinese mythology is a collection of cultural history, folktales, and religions that have been passed down in oral or written tradition. These include creation myths and legends and myths concerning the founding of Chinese culture and the Chinese state...

    , the world originally had ten suns embodied as ten crows, which rose in the sky one at a time. When all ten decided to rise at once, the effect was devastating to crops, so the gods sent their greatest archer Houyi
    Houyi
    Houyi , also called Yiyi or simply Yi, was a mythological Chinese archer and the leader of Dongyi. He is sometimes portrayed as a god of archery descended from heaven to aid mankind, and sometimes as the chief of the Youqiong Tribe during the reign of King Tai Kang of Xia Dynasty...

    , who shot down nine crows and spared only one. Having a "crow beak" is a symbolic expression that one is being a jinx
    Jinx
    A jinx, in popular superstition and folklore, is:* A type of curse placed on a person that makes them prey to many minor misfortunes and other forms of bad luck;...

    .

    Compendium of Materia Medica
    Compendium of Materia Medica
    Bencao Gangmu , also known as Compendium of Materia Medica, is a Chinese materia medica work written by Li Shizhen in the Ming Dynasty. It is a work epitomizing materia medica in the Ming Dynasty. The Bencao Gangmu is regarded as the most complete and comprehensive medical book ever written in the...

     states that crows are kind birds that feed their old and weakened parents; this is often cited as a fine example of filial piety
    Filial piety
    In Confucian ideals, filial piety is one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors. The Confucian classic Xiao Jing or Classic of Xiào, thought to be written around 470 BCE, has historically been the authoritative source on the Confucian tenet of xiào /...

    .
    Ancient Greek authors tell how a jackdaw, being a social creature, may be caught with a dish of oil that it falls into while looking at its own reflection. The Roman poet Ovid
    Ovid
    Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

     saw them as a harbinger of rain (Amores 2,6, 34). In Greek legend, a princess Arne was bribed with gold by King Minos
    Minos
    In Greek mythology, Minos was a king of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa. Every year he made King Aegeus pick seven men and seven women to go to Daedalus' creation, the labyrinth, to be eaten by The Minotaur. After his death, Minos became a judge of the dead in Hades. The Minoan civilization of Crete...

     of Crete, and was punished for her avarice by being transformed into an equally avaricious jackdaw, who still seeks shiny things. In Aesop's Fables
    Aesop's Fables
    Aesop's Fables or the Aesopica are a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. The fables remain a popular choice for moral education of children today...

    , the jackdaw embodies stupidity in one tale, by starving while waiting for figs on a fig tree to ripen, and vanity in another - the daw sought to become king of the birds with borrowed feathers, but was shamed when they fell off. Pliny
    Pliny the Elder
    Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

     notes how the Thessalians, Illyrians
    Illyrians
    The Illyrians were a group of tribes who inhabited part of the western Balkans in antiquity and the south-eastern coasts of the Italian peninsula...

     and Lemnians cherished jackdaws for destroying grasshoppers' eggs. The Veneti
    Veneti
    Veneti may refer to:*Veneti , an ancient Celtic tribe described by classical sources as living in what is now Brittany, France*Adriatic Veneti, an ancient historical people of northeastern Italy, who spoke an Indo-European language related to the Italic languages*Vistula Veneti, an ancient...

     are fabled to have bribed the jackdaws to spare their crops. Another ancient Greek and Roman adage runs, "The swans will sing when the jackdaws are silent," meaning that educated or wise people will speak after the foolish become quiet. In reality, corvids are among the most intelligent birds in the world, and this traditional association with ignorance is quite inaccurate.

    See also

    • Corvus (heraldry)
      Corvus (heraldry)
      The genus Corvus, the True Crows, in heraldry may represent harshness, avarice, death or divine providence. Crows and ravens are indistinguishable in use and appearance, and are depicted in heraldry with hairy feathers and is close by default.A crow speaking will have its mouth agape or open as if...

    • Eating crow
    • Ischys
      Ischys
      In Greek mythology, Ischys was the son of Elatus and Hippea, and also the lover of Coronis. While Coronis was carrying Apollo's child, a crow told Apollo of the affair between Ischys and Coronis...

       for the Greek myth of why the crow's feathers are black.
    • Scarecrow
      Scarecrow
      A scarecrow is, essentially, a decoy, though traditionally, a human figure dressed in old clothes and placed in fields by farmers to discourage birds such as crows or sparrows from disturbing and feeding on recently cast seed and growing crops.-History:In Kojiki, the oldest surviving book in Japan...

      s

    Further reading


    • Gill, B. J. (2003): Osteometry and 1: 43-58. (HTML abstract)


    External links