I am an enormous fan of the corvid family of birds. They are highly intelligent and extremely clever. They do use that intelligence to bully and steal on occasion, but then so does homo sapiens.
I once knew a family of magpies who successfully raised a couple of young ones a year. Their dramatic looks reminded me of a gentleman’s evening tailcoat with electric blue silk lining and their machine-gun staccato cries like the braying laugh of the gentleman’s wife.
Crows are universally confident – it takes a lot to frighten them. Crow-scaring devices provoke an initial flurry of alarm, but canny corvids quickly work out what is a real threat and which a ruse.
One day this crow was patient enough to pose for me. Initially perched in a tree overlooking a riverside path, he hopped obligingly closer and struck a pose in nobile profile, that keen eye always keeping me in sight. People refer to this type of crow as little undertakers because of their all-black feathered suits. If that’s so, then they are a very superior type of undertaker, for their sleek glossy feathers are many wonderful tones of black.
Their ghoulish reputation as scavengers of the dead is probably exaggerated, but it does give us that marvellous Scots song, ‘The Twa Corbies’: