Hooded Crow – forty years ago in my nature notebooks

Hooded crows are fascinating birds. Here’s one I photographed in the magnificent grounds of Villa Borghese in Rome.

Hooded Crow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Forty years ago I saw one at home in Oldham and noted it in my nature notebooks:

Hooded Crow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Hooded Crows were unusual in Oldham because they are mainly birds of the north and the east. In the UK they live in the north of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. Elsewhere they live across Asia, Continental Europe and Russia.

They seem a lot more sociable than Carrion Crows, with large noisy groups in treetops here in the parkland grounds of the Villa.

Their plumage isn’t just black and grey. On closer viewing the black appears to be both plain black and black with an iridescent blue sheen. The grey also appears to be both grey and a pinky-beige, almost verging towards the pink of a Jay. Humans have only a partial view of what bird plumage actually looks like because birds have vision which extends into the ultra-violet, well beyond our vision. Birds may look completely different to each other than they do to us.

Hooded Crow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Hooded Crows are fiendishly inquisitive and their beaks are nimble.

Hooded Crow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Forty years ago I noted ‘square tail’ as one of the distinguishing features. It certainly is.

Here are two Hooded Crows showing us the different fashions of the season in Rome in how to wear their plumage: tight or baggy; high or slicked back. Which do you think will be the new trend?

Hooded Crow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I doubt I’d get this close to them in Orkney. Here they fit in perfectly with the hustle and bustle of city life. How different it must be for them in the open windswept islands of the north.

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