The Listening to Birds Blog

Song Thrush by Nigel Pye //myweb.tiscali.co.uk/njpphotography/

Crows and rooks

From Giovanna Dunbar, Croyden, England

If I hear crows crowing on a cold and frosty morning then it always reminds me of walking to school, many years ago.

From Jane Baxendale, Warrington, England

My favourite experience of birdsong is of being on holiday in Cornwall, Rose Hill Campsite at Porthtowan, over the last 8 years. The site is surrounded with many old high trees and each night the Rooks would return to their nests, making such a curfuffle (is there such a word?). A few would arrive first, then the body of the flock, then finally a few stragglers. They were very noisy and would flap in and out of the trees, flitting from tree to tree, branch to branch, for about an hour before settling down for the night. I imagined that they were visiting relatives and making plans for the next day. It was a privelege to witness it.

From Richard Wild, Southampton, England

Rooks are the birds I will always associate with my wife’s dislike of mornings. In Essex and Suffolk, when I was a boy, the farmers used to go out in the early mornings and late evenings, when the birds were still roosting, and shoot their shotguns through the bottom of the nests of these birds, in order to keep their number under control. Of course, nowadays, farmers are not allowed to continue this practice, and town Rooks are free to rampage at will. Their early morning call in our oak trees manages to penetrate our double glazing, particularly in Spring, much to my wife’s annoyance.

From James Dignan, Dunedin, New Zealand

I moved from Croughton, Northamptonshire to New Zealand when I was eleven. There were many things I expected to miss when I came to New Zealand – friends, winter Christmases, familiar television programmes, and the like – but one of the most evocative single thing I have missed in the years since is the cawing of crows at twilight. The birds here in New Zealand have their own sounds – even species I know from Britain, like blackbirds, sound different here (a different “accent” or “dialect”, I suppose) – and I’ve no doubt I would miss the trilling of bellbirds and tui and the “peep, peep” of fantails if I were to move back to the UK. But there are no crows here, and the sound of crows still makes me homesick. There’s one particular song – “Senses Working Overtime”, by the band XTC – which ends in the sound of crows cawing. It always remind me of childhood in a south Midlands village in the 1970s.

From Kee Hoo, Forest Hills, New York

During my adolescence, I would regularly watch a local murder of crows that inhabited my parents’ neighborhood and one day, I decided to mimic a crow call of one of them as it sat on a branch above. It looked at me curiously, I remember so I continued the call, and my young nephew joined me in the kawing. Within the space of 5 to 7 minutes, several other crows flew in and perched themselves in the other trees above us and all started in with various kaws, surrounding us. At this point, I felt that it would be a wise decision to move my nephew and I back into the safety of our house, we were beginning to feel a slightly malevolent air coming off the birds. I’m not sure what I was saying but I guess it wasn’t appreciated.

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