Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The dark days are murder............

As the days get shorter, I find my energy level waning. Many suffer this time of year from seasonal affective disorder due to the low light and short days, me among them.

``Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, summer blues, or seasonal depression, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer, spring or autumn year after year.`` (Wikipedia)

 This time of year hibernation seems like a great idea; I think that nature intends us to get more rest and take it easy this time of year. But with the Christmas season fast approaching how is that possible? Instead, I'll have to get as much outside time as the weather permits, I find this helps me, and take some extra vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin); it is only another three weeks until the days start getting longer.............

Speaking of murder, it is also a collective noun for a group of crows.

Crows are members of the  family Corvidae, forming the genus Corvus.

``The crow genus makes up a third of the species in the Corvidae family. Crows appear to have evolved in Asia from the corvid stock, which had evolved in Australia. The collective name for a group of crows is a flock or, more poetically, a murder.`` (Wikipedia)

Crows are very smart birds, they seem to recognize faces, so if you slight them in some way they will remember. I heard a story about a man who found a dead crow on his property, he picked it up and threw it in the garbage can. Not a crow friendly act, because for a long while afterwards whenever he ventured out of the house the crows would dive bomb him, they did not threaten anyone else coming or going from the house  or in the neighbourhood.

``Recent research has found some crow species capable not only of tool use but of tool construction as well. Crows are now considered to be among the world's most intelligent animals. The Jackdaw and the European Magpie have been found to have a nidopallium approximately the same relative size as the functionally equivalent neocortex in chimpanzees and humans, and significantly larger than is found in the gibbon.`` (Wikipedia)

This one is goose stepping down a local dock.

They watch what is going on carefully.

Always alert for a tasty morsel.

At my house the crows rob the suet feeder: it doesn`t seem to matter how I try to secure it so that only the small birds can approach it the crows are up to the challenge (You can see suet on the end of this crow's beak).

Anyone feeding the rabbits in the local park also supplements the crows diet. They seem to have a great sense of timing, showing up just as the meal is being delivered.

Here the rabbit is waiting for the crows to finish, but neither seems worried about the others presence.

I watched a crow in a parking lot in the Grand Canyon: each new car that parked was checked out by the crow who cleaned up all the freshly squashed bugs on the front grill of each one. It was facsinating, the crow seemed to know which order the cars came in and ``attended`` to them accordingly.

These pictures were taken close to the beach, a source of mussels and other shells, which the crows drop
onto the road to open; if that doesn`t work they seem to drop them in the path of an oncoming car, hoping the car wheels will free the tasty morsel inside.

A young crow (I think) doing some grooming:

At the end of the day, unless they are nesting, the crows head to one of several large roosts for the night. On a summer evening  I have watched hundreds fly past as the light starts to wane.

Crows do not like eagles or hawks in their territory, as a group, or murder, they chase the raptor mercilessly usually resulting in the raptor leaving the area.

Fascinating birds!

A painted a bird this week, but sad to say not a crow. This is a watercolour of a house finch called "Winter Colour":

That's it for this week, thank you for dropping by, happy Whimsy Wednesday, until next week ................


  1. Early to bed, early to rise seems to be the best way to handle these dark days. Your little finch looks very well feathered to protect it from the cold. I think crows, in fact all birds, are far more intelligent than we credit them to be. :)

  2. what an adorable house finch! i love crows. i think they are indeed fascinating and so intelligent. i put stale bread, chips or dog food out for them and they show up within minutes after the sentry sounds the alert. :)

  3. We love crows, albeit from a distance, this spring they nested right in front of our bedroom, so it was a 4 am wakeup call. And then they had a few failure to launch babies that hung around way too long, calling all day, Ma, Ma, I'm hungry, Ma, Ma, bring me a worn, you would figure that since he was in his 30's crow years wise, he would get out and do something....

    In White Rock they lived in the trees outside of our place, and one day I foolishly tried to spray them with a water hose, I was fed up. Bad idea, the rest of the summer I could barely go outside without being cawed at, and dive bombed. Everyone thought it was funny....not.

    Love the shots of your crows, and I hear you about the dark days, they are hard, but knowing that they will change in three weeks helps.


  4. Great photos of all the crows - however, they are not my favorite birds right now! The other day there was a big birdy fuss happening in the big tree next door and when I went out to look I saw the "peewees" that have a nest there dive bombing a crow sitting in the top of the tree. The crow had a small pink bird hanging out of its beak! I think the crow must have got all the birds in the nest as the parents are no longer around.
    Sorry about your dark winter days - the migratory shorebirds have the right idea - summer here (in Australia) and then summer in the northern hemisphere in the other half of the year.

  5. Fine post, Gillian. I have watched shows about crows and have learned what incredibly intelligent creatures they are. I have a lot of respect for them. Your photos are lovely.. the little fluffy one doing its grooming stole my heart.

    As always, your art is fantastic. You're one talented lady.

    I hope the short days can pass without too much of a problem for you. Keep on snapping lovely shots and painting your beautiful art. And know that I'm wishing you much sunshine to get you through it.

  6. I love the shot of the crows with the watching rabbit. All of the shots are good and I always love your art. I don't like losing sunlight but I hate the summer heat so look forward to colder weather.

  7. So many fun crow shots! I haven't been able to get one good picture of a crow yet, so I am very appreciative of yours. I saw a fabulous (in my opinion) documentary about crows on CBC which really raised my respect for them. They still haven't won me over with their caws, though.

    Your painting is delightful and would be beautifulreproduced as a Christmas card.

  8. I adore your painting!!! I suffer from SAD as well. I use my lite box on mornings when it is dark and rainy. And take extra vitamin D3 daily.

  9. I suffer from SAD in the summer. Its way to hot to go outside so I am trapped in the house or indoors somewhere. I always say I have cabin fever in the summer. Crazy. I enjoyed reading about the Crows. I remember once we were traveling and had stopped to fill up with Gas and there was a crow sitting on the Trash can.. I had threw away a fast food bag and that crow picked it up out of the trash and started to tear the paper to get inside. I remember thinking that is one smart bird.

    Love your watercolor. It's so beautiful.


  10. Hi there - it seems that it crow week in the blogosphere this week!

    Nice set of pictures.

    About 3 years ago I changed jobs and now I can walk home from work -which takes about an hour and I do it about 2 or 3 times a week. I think that time outside as part of my normal week makes me feel so much better.


    Stewart M - Melbourne

  11. Hola Guillian pasaba a saludarte,
    tienes un bonito espacio.
    Ya ha llegado el mes mas entrañable del año, cargado de alegrías para unos y lleno de nostalgias para otros por los seres mas queridos que ya no están, al mismo tiempo con la tristeza de todas aquellas personas sin hogar, de todo corazón deseo que la paz y la felicidad visiten tu casa y disfrutes de estas fiestas con tus familiares.
    un abrazo.

  12. Gillian, I definitely agree with you on the depressing effects of these long winter nights - very energy-sapping. Your crow pictures are great - they are certainly very intelligent birds. I think if they were a bit bigger, they could take over the world!

  13. Your finch is simply gorgeous!! I am not sure I can tell the difference between a crow and a black bird, when I see them in the wild!

    Interesting information about seasonal depression! I have always enjoyed winter because I enjoy being indoors and doing inside projects and crafts!

  14. Great post. I have seen the crows harass a hawk in my backyard until he left. Pretty clever birds.

  15. beautiful painting Gillian ! and amazing shots of that all black bird!
    have a wonderful weekend Gillian

  16. Murder? Now that is fascinating.

    I have heard crows are very intelligent birds.

  17. Lovely finch painting! And your photos of the crows are charming.

    I hear you about the long dark days. The sun sets before 15.00 and doesn't rise till about 8 am, so the days are very short indeed. Still, now that the snow has come to light up the darkness, it's much more bearable.

  18. Hello Gillian,

    I have fallen behind with comments, but that is handy in a way, since I can now say that it is only a few days until the winter solstice. Luckily, I'm not affected by SAD, but it will still be wonderful to have a few more minutes of light each day. I love crows so really enjoyed your photos and commentary, and your painting of the finch is just exquisite!