2014 A to Z Challenge: C is for Crows

Welcome back for the next A to Z Challenge installment. For those of you new to this, during the month of April, over 2,000 bloggers are posting daily on topics that correspond to each letter of the alphabet. In my case, my posts all revolve around the research elements that have informed my new historical fantasy, Famine. (Oooh, look, a book plug.)

Wednesday’s letter is:

CC is for Crows

Sometimes referred to as “winged primates,” crows are considered to be among the most intelligent species of animals on earth. They have complex systems of language, including nuanced calls that vary depending upon the situation (communicating with friends vs. foes, for instance). Some crow species not only utilize tools, they create them.

Crows live in multi-generational family groups with all members involved in raising and teaching hatchlings. They have demonstrated the ability to recognize individual humans, predict behavior of those humans based upon experience, and teach responsive behaviors to other crows. (ie. They can recognize a person who’s proven to be a threat, anticipate the possibility of additional harm from that person, and teach other crows to recognize and avoid that person.)

Beauty and brains:

I’ve had an affection for crows since I was a child, so making them an important part of Famine has been delightful. They’re often misunderstood and unfairly maligned, even by my own character:

The screech and scrape of wood against wood drew his attention to the apartment below and Bartholomew peeked over the ledge. Matilde slipped through her open bedroom window to the iron balcony and crouched behind ragged sheets that had been draped across it to dry. She made a hollow clicking sound with her tongue and palate, waited, and repeated the noise.

The crows around him rustled and arched their wings then echoed her call. A handful hopped to the edge of the roof and, one by one, dropped over the ledge.

Bartholomew eased forward another inch, risking discovery as he peered down upon the little girl. She’d pulled a cracker from her apron pocket and was offering crumbs to the black birds, extending the food on her palm. “Hello, sweet souls,” she murmured as the crows ducked and bowed and gently plucked the morsels from her hand, crooning their pleasure. Forgetting secrecy for astonishment, Bartholomew leaned further out from the roofline. He’d never known the black sentinels to exhibit such civility.

Thanks for stopping by. Please take a few minutes to check out some of the other A to Z bloggers, leave comments, and see what everyone else has to say about C.


  • Sukanya Ramanujan

    Wow! This is a great post. Crows are indeed very smart and observant, and I have been attacked once or twice by them. But they are an interesting species to study. Good luck with the challenge- I’m participating as well!

    • Great post and excerpt. My crazy mind made me think of Crow T. Robot from “Mystery Science Theater 3000”–LOL/

      • Monica Enderle Pierce

        Crow T Robot! Ha! I haven’t thought of him in ages.

        • I miss that show!

          • Monica Enderle Pierce

            Many a Saturday (or was it Sunday?) morning was spent watching horrible B movies because of MST3K.

    • Monica Enderle Pierce

      Thanks Sukanya. You must remind those crows of someone, or you strayed too close to their nest. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      • I think it was Saturday. I watched with my husband and taped it for my friend, who liked it also.

        • Monica Enderle Pierce

          Definitely pre-Mini-Me in our household. She doesn’t have the patience for it. (Or she’s too high-brow…at 7 1/2.) LOL!

  • First, I must tell you how incredibly gorgeous these blog images for your books are. Second, I like crows. I wonder why a group of them is called a murder of crows. I remember reading The Stand outside while snacking on Blow-Pops many years ago. I had to go inside for a few minutes and when I came back, a crow had stolen several lolly-pops and carried them up to his tree where he sat laughing at me. I wonder if he (or she) ever got one unwrapped.

    • Monica Enderle Pierce

      Thanks for your compliments, Tamara. (And sorry for my slow response. Got sidetracked publishing a book. LOL!)
      I love crows; they’re bold and protective yet are incredibly tender with their family members and so playful. I’m sure that crow enjoyed your consternation and the lollipop. We recently discovered that one has taken my daughter’s sand shovel up into a pine tree in our backyard. Guess curiosity got the best of him. He just *had* to know what that yellow thing was.
      Re: the photos. Thank you! I have the great fortune of working with an outstanding photographer (http://bytestudiophotography.com/). Seeing the same stock photos on different book covers sends me up a wall. (And, honestly, I love putting together cover shoots. So much fun!)

  • Great post very atmospheric, great to connect and follow
    Twitter: WriterBizWoman

    • Monica Enderle Pierce

      Thanks, Charlotte. I appreciate the visit and the comment. I’m playing catch-up on the A to Z rounds for the rest of the month. (Been busy writing and formatting!)

  • ohhh. Historical fantasy. I am a bit of a fantasy geek, so best of luck with that project! I love the images, and I knew most of this about crows, but I do not think I’ve ever seen it all in one place.

    I’m visiting new (WR) blogs every evening until I find five I wish to comment on, and adding links to the posts where I comment to a permanent page. I also have 5 friends who are doing the challenge and they’re linked on the page, so that’s a whole day of A-to-Z visits 😉

    Nice that you linked back to A-to-Z. Not everyone does, and I think it’s helpful, especially early in the challenge.

    • Monica Enderle Pierce

      Thanks, Gene! Nice to meetcha! I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I’m waaay behind on my A to Z visits, but the book finally has been submitted to Amazon, so now I can get back to socializing. I’m looking forward to checking out your posts, too. 😀

  • The day I finished this book, I was driving home from work and three crows were on the road. I had to nearly stop. They are bold, and beautiful. We used to see so many more of them. Blue Jays are closely related, and we see the signs of great intelligence in them, too. Social, organized in their efforts. Another great post, Monica. 🙂