The Black Crow Superstition (What I Learned When Caring for a Crow)
Once upon a time, my family took an injured black crow in for the night. Given my superstitions about crows, I was hesitant to bring it into the house, but I don't believe it brought us any ill luck.
Overall, it was a great experience, and hopefully the bird is safe—though I would not recommend you attempt to care for an injured crow if you come across one. While our experience went smoothly, it's usually best to leave these things to the professionals or the crow's family.
I thought I would write this article not only to share my superstition story but also to clue other people in on what information is needed if they find an injured black crow that needs care. (Here's a hint: Don't bring it home!) For the full story of our crow rescue, scroll to the bottom.
Do Crows Carry Diseases?
People often associate black crows with West Nile Virus. As a result, the population of black birds has decreased since 1999. According to the CDC's page about West Nile Virus & Dead Birds, you cannot become infected by handling live or dead birds with West Nile Virus. I do recommend that anyone in contact with any exotic animal not place the animal near their face.
Make sure that after handling a black crow or an exotic animal, you wash your hands in hot, soapy water. Some people have said that crows and other exotic animals also carry animal or bird lice, but bird lice are exclusive to birds, so humans won't be harmed by them. You can, however, bring bird lice home to your other pet birds if you're not careful.
So What About the Superstitions?
Many people believe that black crows represent death. The superstition may stem from the fact that crows eat dead animals and that a group of crows is known as "a murder." Naturally, there is no evidence to support this superstition, but it is incredibly widespread nonetheless.
Are Crows Really That Smart?
Many people are not aware that the black crow is one of the world's most intelligent birds. Their communication methods and problem-solving abilities show great intelligence. They are also known to mimic other birds' calls, and some believe they learn to "talk" better than most pet birds.
What Do Black Crows Eat?
Crows are omnivores and will eat just about anything. They are known to feed on dead fish or animals as well as garbage, eggs, fish, mice, worms and frogs. Their diet should consist of a lot of protein.
If you have found an injured crow, you can offer it kibble, various grains and/or unsalted sunflower seeds.
Can You Keep a Crow as a Pet?
It is not recommended to keep a black crow as a pet. Crows need to be with other crows, and if you see one that isn't able to fly, you should call animal patrol or safely place the bird in the nearest tree. Crows have many family members that will help them learn how to fly, eat and protect themselves. This is to say, you shouldn't do what we did and bring the bird into your home.
What Should You Do If You Find a Baby Bird?
Though many people might feel tempted to do what my family did and bring the bird home in an attempt to rehabilitate it, that is not usually the best idea. The Humane Society recommends contacting a licensed wildlife rehabilitator rather than attempting to help the bird yourself. For more information, here is an article all about what to do if you find a baby bird.
A Caw for Help? Our Story of Crow Rescue
Once, during our evening walk around the neighborhood, my daughter and I saw a cloud of black crows flying above our heads. As we came to a certain spot on the sidewalk, the crows started squawking louder and came closer and closer to our heads. To our surprise, there was a smaller crow lying in the street next to the curb. It, too, was squawking pretty loud. My daughter automatically said, "Oh Mom, please help the poor bird."
I Wanted to Help the Crow, But What About My Superstitions?
Covering my head and telling my daughter to hurry, I walked past the hurt crow and headed home. Why didn't I help it? I was (and still am) a little superstitious about black crows. Have you ever heard that they are bad luck? Or that they represent death? The superstition is silly to some people, but others take it very seriously. I have to admit, I fall into the latter category.
What seemed like an hour speed-walking home was really only a five-minute walk back. My daughter couldn't wait to get home and tell her dad about the hurt crow. Although I felt guilty for not stopping and helping it, I knew my boyfriend wouldn't hesitate to help the injured animal—he loves exotic animals and pets. As I expected, my daughter and her dad grabbed a box and walked down the block to rescue the crow.
Wildlife rehabilitators wear visors to hide their face when feeding fledglings because crows imprint easily. It is best to avoid interacting with a found crow in order to give them the best chance of returning the wild.
Though I Was Hesitant, We Brought the Crow Home.
Within minutes, they were on the porch petting, examining, and talking to the injured bird. Peeking my head out the front door, it seemed like the crow was as big as a raven. However, it was still just a baby. As my boyfriend carried it into the house, I closed my eyes and crossed my fingers, praying it would not bring any bad luck or deaths.
The black crow's feathers were all ruffled and it looked as if a cat or predator had attacked it, but we don't think that's what happened. There was no noticeable blood on the crow, nor did it have any broken limbs. Therefore, we assumed that the bird must have fallen out of its nest and couldn't yet fly.
Crow fledglings will look disheveled, hungry, and will even “gape” if something is dangled in front of their mouth. It’s important not to disrupt the natural process of a baby crow fledging the nest. Only intervene if you fear the fledgling is abandoned or injured.
Not knowing what to do with the bird next, I got online and did some research about crows, including what diseases they carry, general information, and—yes—superstitions about them.
After a Night Inside, He Was Eager to Return to His Family.
We babied the crow and kept it overnight. Throughout the night, the bird perched on my boyfriend's finger and was very tame. He then let it rest in a cardboard box where he had placed a clean towel down for padding. He also gave it water and tried to feed it. However, the bird just rested and had no appetite. My daughter and boyfriend were able to pet the bird without any problems. I, on the other hand, kept my distance from it.
In the early morning, it started making loud squawking noises. My boyfriend took it out to the patio to see if it was able to fly yet. Unfortunately, it was not yet able. Outside, we could see the crow's family flying around and squawking loudly. It was like the crow's parents were looking for their baby. We then decided to take the black crow back to where we found it so that its family could find him/her. The older crows recognized their baby and started being very protective, making loud caw-caw noises and swooping ever closer to my boyfriend's head.
A (Seemingly) Successful Rescue
Later that day, we went to go check on the crow and it was gone. We believe it was either hiding from people or it was able to follow its family to a safe habitat.
If you have had a similar animal-rescue experience, please take time to comment below this post. I would enjoy learning more about black crows, exotic animals and exotic pets.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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© 2010 Tammy Frost