Appalachia Crows

Appalachia Through My Eyes – The Crow Family

My life in appalachia - Crow Families
The way Crows interact with each other fascinates me. They have a tight family unit-and within that unit each Crow has a job to do.

One of the Crows from the unit acts as a guard or sentry-watching the perimeter while the rest of the family eats. If need be-the guard sends out a warning call to the rest of the family. I don’t know if it’s true-but someone told me-if the guard doesn’t do his duty-the rest of the crows gang up on him and take him out of the family unit-if you know what I mean.

Pap says when Crows raise their young-they meet in large groups to teach the young birds how to fly-and other things. He said if you ever get a chance to see or hear this process-it is amazing.

One time my Uncle Henry was deerhunting-as he sat in his stand, he watched a group of Crows perform a very peculiar routine. He said it was the oddest thing he had ever seen-the Crows almost seemed to be performing a military formation-flying in and out-landing all in a row-turning one at a time before taking off for the next maneuver.

Even though Crows are my favorite bird-I’ve never really seen them do much of anything except fly through the pastures-and eat roadkill on the road where I live…until this past weekend. Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you about my encounter with a murder of Crows.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.



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  • Reply
    PS Koger
    February 9, 2021 at 8:29 am

    If you have crows in the garden pulling up corn you can shoot one and hang it up. The rest will come in and have a funeral (with loud noise) then they leave and don’t come back.

  • Reply
    September 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I have a lot of big oak trees in my yard and sometimes in the summer they are full of crows at night. Hundreds of them roost in my trees but they fly away in the morning. I am enjoying your posts on crows!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 28, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Seems like everyone is “aware” of the crows. Like them or hate them but nobody ignores them. Wonder why they are such a presence.
    Tipper, I’ve talked to them for years. When they squawk at me I always reply with good morning or whatever time of day it is. Then if they continue we may have a long conversation.
    Don’t know why I’m drawn to them, just know that I am.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    September 27, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    I’m enjoying your week of crows, Tipper!

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    When I was barely a teenager, one
    of my favorite things in this world was squirrel hunting. Most of the time I hunted with my brother, but he had already discovered girls, so I was by myself on an old liquor trail under a bunch of hickory trees.
    Several squirrels were feeding
    cause chips were falling just like
    a gentle rain. Suddenly I got
    invaded by a flock of crows. They
    were a squawking something awful,
    scared me and the squirrels. It
    was total silence, then I saw the
    leader, a solid white one. I had
    heard about an albino Crow from a
    friend of my dad and now I was
    looking at him. He squawked in a
    lower tone and all the rest gave
    him absolute attention. After he
    finished he left first with all
    the others right behind him and
    nobody made a sound, except for
    me getting the ‘well’ out of there…Ken

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Some birds are intelligent; others not so much. Crows fall into the intelligent crowd; doves fall into the “not so much” group. Years ago we were trapping doves to band them to find information about their migration, age etc.( part of the job; nothhing illegal). This involved setting a trap with ground corn; the doves would enter and didn’t have enough brain power how to retereat. So they would sit by the wire edge of the trap and crows would then come and kill the doves(through the wire) and eat the corn out of their crop. All the doves needed to do was move to the center of the cage and they wouldn’t be crow bait. Never happened that way. The crows were just making a living but they surely did hamper our efforts on gaining dove knowledge.

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 11:11 am

    My long time turkey hunting partner’s 27 y.o. son was tragically murdered one winter and we didn’t go turkey hunting that spring almost 20 years ago. The next fall, we had hunted all morning, it was hot and dry and I was tired of going up and down the hills, when we talked to an old timer who said we should try up behind his place. For some reason my older friend was really keen to get up there, so I followed. With his son heavy on our minds, we hiked about half way up when over 20 crows suddenly surrounded us in the low branches of the trees, right above the trail. If crows could speak English, these were as close as anything we ever heard. Three or four of the closest birds were talking to each other and to my friend as plain as day, with the rest of them subtly mumbling. It was so unreal, we just stood there mesmerized with their speech, we could almost understand it. This went on for quite some time, then just as quick as they had appeared, they all left. We didn’t say anything for quite a while. Farther up the hill, I finally said “Whew, what was that? They sure had a message for you. What did they say?” He said: “Yep, musta been. Not sure.” I like to think it was from his son and they said he’s okay now.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    September 27, 2011 at 11:07 am

    With the Crow’s propensity to eat road-kill do you know why you seldom if ever see a crow that’s been run over? This is because they always have a sentry who at the first sight of a vehicle screams Cah-Cah-Cah. Sorry I couldn’t resist, I know it’s corny.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 27, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I am late in commenting today..having to type with one eye patched after the eye shot yesterday, hopefully to fix my vision up..Ha…All I need is a crow sitting on my right shoulder, a hobbled leg and I’d be ready for Halloween..ha..
    Very interesting crows…We have a small murder of them here…
    They delight in tormenting owls and the Red Tail hawks…but mine you at a distance…We also have a Perigrine falcon around but the crows are never here when he makes his flights in fact all the birds get very quite…ha
    One time I was sure that I heard someone in the pasture talking in the distance…I peeked out the door, couldn’t see anything but when I stepped out, the sentry crow did his shout and off the crows flew…To say the least, I was startled! I have since heard a lower talking sound they do from the top of the trees…It is almost like they are playing tricks on you…
    Does anyone remember Heckle and Jeckle cartoons? ha
    Thanks Tipper..if I missed a letter or spelling blame it on the eyes…ha

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    September 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

    There are some 50 mentions of “crow” in Shakespeare’s writings (, some referring only to “crow bar”, as in a iron clad wicked beak.
    I saw a documentary on crows by a Seattle independent film maker who studied a murder for a year. One point to back up your own, if a sentry does not do his job, he does indeed become the job.
    Also, crows do not just eat road or battlefield kill, but babies of all flavors…squirrels, other birds, our own, etc.
    And, as we all know, along with hummingbirds and other smallish birds, they love to chase hawks whenever the chance presents itself.

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 10:04 am

    We have a tape of crow sounds, and when it’s played they really gather in, especially when the dying crow call goes forth.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    September 27, 2011 at 9:51 am

    As I’m sure all do, we have a “family” of crows that visit each day, sometimes only a fly-by and other times a stop for a quick early morning business meeting to go over the plans for the day. While taking my early morning walk with the dog, I often stand on the edge of their “zone” and observe the “meeting”. Then before you know it they are off and gone for the day.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 27, 2011 at 9:45 am

    We have so many crows at our cabin. It is fun to listen to them and try to figure out what they are talking about. Sometimes it really sounds like a huge fight and when you look they are just sitting around yelling at each other.

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    September 27, 2011 at 9:31 am

    I love this crow poem- a children’s poem, really-
    A Gathering of Crows….
    One crow for sorrow
    Two crows for joy
    Three crows for a girl
    Four for a boy
    Five crows for silver
    Six for gold
    Seven for a secret never to be told
    Eight for a wish
    Nine for a kiss
    Ten for a time of joyous bliss
    Have a crow-filled day!!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 27, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Tipper–Although I haven’t studied it, crows have a quite varied vocabulary. The turkey has a vocabulary of just over thirty “words,” and I’m guessing that of crows is appreciably higher. If you spend much time outdoors become familiar with some of the sounds–“fight, fight, everyone take flight and join in,” casual in-flight talk, “I’ve found an owl, let’s ‘devil’ it,” “Uh-oh, that sorry Casada fellow is coming with a gun in his hand, and we need to attend to business in the next county,” etc. you soon realize as much.
    An experienced crow caller (and there are all kinds of commercial calls you can buy to make crow sounds) can produce crow talk which will bring crows coming from as far away as they can hear.
    Crow hunting used to be very popular, and if you could kill the sentry crow it was almost as if the group lost their compass and wouldn’t flee. Similarly, if the sentry failed in its duties and survived the shooting, other crows would turn on it in fury.
    They are truly interesting, if slightly wicked, creatures.
    Mind you, since you identify with them so closely Tipper, I wonder if you have a wee, hidden streak of meannesss somehwere:). I reckon I’ll have to ask Pap next time I see him.
    Jim Casada
    P. S. Thanks to all of you who were gracious and kind enough to comment on my story about a “Craziness of Crows.” I genuinely appreciate it and I’m always tickled to do something connected with Tipper’s stellar, ongoing efforts. I’ve promised her another tale, this one a bittersweet story from the heart, come Christmas season.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    September 27, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I like watching the crows. I like to hear the ‘talk’ to each other. And I’ve also seen them gang up on a certain one in the group, not sure why they do this but I’ve seen it several times.

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 8:34 am

    so maybe when we hear the crows screaming and squawking they are teaching the young. we see them sitting on the wire, miles of them and the Walmart parking lot you would love, early AM they are sitting and standing and walking every where.

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Very interesting. It is pretty darn awesome to see the wonders of how animals survive, live and raise families.

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Fascinating Tipper! I never knew this! I love to hear Crows squawk, I guess that’s the warning signal.

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