Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Crow Family: Saving Resources

The crow family (Corvidae) includes a large group of birds besides crows and their brother ravens. Also belonging to the crow family are the choughs, jays, magpies, and nutcrackers. What do all these birds have in common? They are curious, intelligent, noisy, outrageous, and social.

Throughout the ages, people have either loved or hated Corvids, but they have never ignored them. People gave distinctive names for groups of these birds: a murder of crows, an unkindness of ravens, a tiding of magpies, a chattering of choughs, and a scold of jays. Having a property with a Parliament of rooks living there is considered to be good fortune. Raven lore ranges from North American beliefs of Raven as the Trickster to the Norse raven companions of Odin. Furthermore, many people believe as long as ravens (or rooks) live at the Tower of London, the Crown of England shall be safe. Beliefs involving other members are: magpies steal, crows foretell death, and jays bring bad luck.

What are these birds that grab people’s attention? The most familiar group is crows and ravens, who are also the most widespread of the Corvids. These sooty black birds are noted for their quick-wittedness. Crows and ravens use their intelligence to good use in finding food.

In their glossy all-black plumage, the choughs resemble crows. You find them living on cliffs or in mountains of Eurasia. Unlike the black-beaked crow, the chough has either a yellow or scarlet bill.

Meanwhile, jays are considered to be the most primitive of the Corvids. As the oldest of Corvids, They originated in Eurasia and spread throughout the New World. Jays are noted for their colorfulness, with many having blue or green plumage.

Magpies and treepies are highly social birds. These black and white birds are well known for their chatter. One part of the magpie’s name comes from mag, which is Old English for “chatterer”. Regarded as thieves, magpies like bright shiny things, which they take and hide.

Nutcrackers, which live in pine forests, are remarkable for the extent of their dependence on cached stores of seeds. Permanent residents of forests, they do not migrate but live through hard winters on their saved food. Called nutcrackers, they eat mainly hazel nuts and pine seeds.

Members of the crow family save for the future. They store food to help them through hard times. Before beginning to eat, Corvids will take the trouble to hide a large quantity of food. They carry the food in their throats until they find a hole to hide the food in. Corvids memorize where they hid their food and return to their stores when they need to.

We can learn from the crow family how to refrain from consuming everything in sight. Learn the discipline to save some for the future when lean times arrive. If we have discipline and fortitude like the crow family, our hidden stores will be there for us during hard times.

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