Ciara and the Crows: Dating Advice from a Crow

What can we learn from the love lives of crows?

I’m not normally one to get upset about spending Valentine’s Day alone—because alone isn’t normally all that alone. But COVID complicates that. Sure there’s Zoom or Facetime but it doesn’t quite compare to getting together with a bunch of single friends and scream singing Kelly Clarkson’s “Because of You”. So, stuck inside, the crows are my Valentines.

My Valentine’s Day was mostly spent working on my paper mache crow (more on that in a bit), but in thinking about crows and love I was drawn to explore and find out more about their love lives. Especially with the crowds of crows (also known as murders) we see in the winters, it’s pretty obvious that they’re social birds but this doesn’t give me much insight into their romantic endeavors. So I turned to my field guides and my google search bar.

Crows are generally monogamous, with a few side flings thrown into their partnered lives. They are social, and roost together, forage together, and create communities of family together to stick it out through the seasons. A phrase I had never heard before this little bout of research was, “cooperative breeding”. According to Corvid Research Blog, “Cooperative breeding is defined as when more than two individuals contribute to the care of the young in a single brood. For crows this means that, in addition to the mated pair, there can be up to 10 additional birds helping to raise this year’s brood”.

Crows really exemplify the saying, “it takes a village”. While I expected to be writing a long-winded, passionate crow romance novel this week it was refreshing to find myself learning more about community and helping those around us. There’s a lot we can learn from crows, and a lot I think I can apply to my dating life. I’m not one to give dating advice, but taking it from a crow, here are some tips and tricks:

It takes a village:

While crows find their mates to canoodle and cozy up with, they aren’t going to isolate themselves from the rest of their friends and family because of that. I know that the big scary “C” word in dating is usually commitment—but for me it’s codependency. Especially when we are busy and our to-do lists become multiple pages long it’s easy to fall into a habit of only making time for that one other person. That pressure is scary. The crows have got it down right. We cannot expect a singular partner to take care of our every need but that doesn’t mean we need to meet our every need on our own either. We all need connection and community. Mating is fun and all, but we’re nothing without our roosts.

Get your me-time:

Okay yes, that community is great. In the winter when everything’s cold and grey, we need one another, and we need a place to call home. Crows’ roosts are important to them, and that home base is somewhere they’ll always have to return to. But, in the summer more so than other times of year, they spend the day away from their roost to forage and poke around some new dumpsters or corn fields. Maybe even meet some new crow friends on the way! We’ve all gotta take a break sometimes from the crows (or people) we spend most of our time around.

It takes two to tango (or to build a nest):

I’m not sure if I can totally get on board with applying this to my own love life, but crows are pretty quick to move in with one another. That’s not for me. But what I can appreciate is this: both members of the crow couple build the nest together by gathering twigs, pine needles, fur, bark, etc. I’ll be exploring more on nests soon, but it’s nice to know the labor isn’t left to just one partner or the other. Similarly, I don’t think I should have to be the one to do the dishes if I’m the one cooking the meal (just saying).

I did not expect crows to be such a heartwarming part of my Valentine’s Day this year (or quite honestly, a part of my Valentine’s Day at all). I’m glad they were though, my romance with crows is definitely looking like it could turn into something long term.

Paper Mache Update

papier mache crow
Progress! Photo: Audubon Vermont

Another crow project I have in the works is this paper mache crow I’ve been working on at home. As I’m trying to learn about size I am working to make this crow as life-size as possible. There’s a lot of work to be done yet, but so far we are measuring in with a 34” long wingspan and 17” long height. I am cutting feathers to be about 9” long and my next (daunting) task will be the head and beak. Updates to come!

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