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Posted by on Mar 15, 2011 in Nature

Murder in the Air

On weekends, I like to sit on the couch in the living room, staring off into space and up into the skies. Late afternoon, I can set my internal clock to the return of the crow. Scores of them. First one, then two, then a dozen and more, all winging their way somewhere. In fact, hundreds of them make their way above my house – all slowly travelling in the same direction and at the same time of the day. Unlike the mathematical precision of the Canada geese formation, these birds fly randomly, in jerky spurts and starts.

A “murder” of crows is what this phenomenon is called. What a sinister sounding name. Not like a “run” of salmon, a “rhumba” of rattlesnakes or a “watch” of nightingales. With their dark appearance and ugly cawing, I am reminded of Hitchcock’s The Birds. And when the crows stop for a break, they descend upon a tree, transforming it into a noisy, quivering ball of blackness.

It used to be the Canada Goose that had me dreaming of spring. Now that they’ve screwed things up with their loitering all winter long, my bird for the 21st century is the crow. Urban, loud and gregarious.

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