Crow close-up

Photo by Chris Bosak An American crow in Danbury, CT, winter 2019.

Crows are surprisingly difficult to photograph, especially considering how common they are. During the winter in many New England cities, we see massive flocks of crows headed to their nighttime roosts. Obviously their numbers are not hurting so why are they so tough to capture on film? (I know that nobody uses film anymore; it’s just an expression.)

First of all, they are fairly wary. Smart, in other words. They typically do not allow for a very close approach. Even crows in a very public place will take off as soon as you point a camera at it. I’ve heard that crows are difficult to hunt as well. They may be all over a certain area, but as soon as a gun comes out, the birds are gone. They must sense that something is amiss.

If you do get a cooperative crow, it is still difficult to get a nice photograph because of the bird’s plumage. Very black and very white birds are tough because of the lighting and contrast challenges. If you do get it right, however, the results can be very satisfying. Crows, similar to other dark birds, display a captivating iridescence in their plumage when the light catches the feathers just right.

For whatever reason, crows are a much-maligned bird. I think it’s time to change that perception and appreciate them for what they are: smart, personable and stylish.

Here’s further reading on the intelligence of crows. This article suggests that crows may be among the most intelligent animals on earth.