2014 A to Z Challenge: C is for Crows

Welcome back for the next A to Z Challenge installment. For those of you new to this, during the month of April, over 2,000 bloggers are posting daily on topics that correspond to each letter of the alphabet. In my case, my posts all revolve around the research elements that have informed my new historical fantasy, Famine. (Oooh, look, a book plug.) Wednesday's letter is:


C is for Crows

Sometimes referred to as "winged primates," crows are considered to be among the most intelligent species of animals on earth. They have complex systems of language, including nuanced calls that vary depending upon the situation (communicating with friends vs. foes, for instance). Some crow species not only utilize tools, they create them.

Crows live in multi-generational family groups with all members involved in raising and teaching hatchlings. They have demonstrated the ability to recognize individual humans, predict behavior of those humans based upon experience, and teach responsive behaviors to other crows. (ie. They can recognize a person who's proven to be a threat, anticipate the possibility of additional harm from that person, and teach other crows to recognize and avoid that person.)

Beauty and brains:

I've had an affection for crows since I was a child, so making them an important part of Famine has been delightful. They're often misunderstood and unfairly maligned, even by my own character:

The screech and scrape of wood against wood drew his attention to the apartment below and Bartholomew peeked over the ledge. Matilde slipped through her open bedroom window to the iron balcony and crouched behind ragged sheets that had been draped across it to dry. She made a hollow clicking sound with her tongue and palate, waited, and repeated the noise.

The crows around him rustled and arched their wings then echoed her call. A handful hopped to the edge of the roof and, one by one, dropped over the ledge.

Bartholomew eased forward another inch, risking discovery as he peered down upon the little girl. She’d pulled a cracker from her apron pocket and was offering crumbs to the black birds, extending the food on her palm. “Hello, sweet souls,” she murmured as the crows ducked and bowed and gently plucked the morsels from her hand, crooning their pleasure. Forgetting secrecy for astonishment, Bartholomew leaned further out from the roofline. He’d never known the black sentinels to exhibit such civility.

Thanks for stopping by. Please take a few minutes to check out some of the other A to Z bloggers, leave comments, and see what everyone else has to say about C.