What bird am I talking about? – “One means anger; two is mirth; three a wedding”

“One means anger; two is mirth; three a wedding; four a birth; five is heaven; six is hell; seven is the devil himself.” This old English rhyme is about crows. I know they’re not necessarily the most popular bird but they are very interesting nevertheless. I’ve been seeing large flocks of them gathering over New Lanark as I leave work for the evening, getting ready to roost for the night in the large beech trees at the top of the hill behind the village. The rhyme seems to suggest that the greater the number their number, the scarier the crows. The collective noun for a group of crows is ‘murder’, so I think they are in need of a better public relations officer!

Carrion Crow (c) Amy Lewis
Carrion Crow (c) Amy Lewis

Crows are in fact incredibly sociable and fiercely protective of their family and the community they live in. Often if a crow gets caught in a mist net (for ringing and recording birds), all the other crows will come and mob the poor bird ringers who are trying to get it out of the net. They will make such a raucous which is not only very intimidating but they are also calling all the other crows to come along and help out.

Over the course of the day the crows might end up foraging over 30 minutes away from the roost and will have to fly back every evening. At this time of year I normally remind you guys about starling murmurations but this year I would highly recommend you come along to New Lanark to see the crows. I have been seeing them flocking at around 5pm. In such a beautiful setting, they are amazing to watch. Flying high above your heads they playfully fly around one another jostling for a good spot in the sky.

Laura Preston – Falls of Clyde Ranger, Scottish Wildlife Trust
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Preface

“One means anger; two is mirth; three a wedding; four a birth; five is heaven; six is hell; seven is the devil himself.” This old English rhyme is about crows. …

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