nature, Posts

Kenneth the Very Odd Crow

I know I have been quiet of late on this blog but I have been concentrating on researching my book ‘Crime and Punishment in Medieval England’. I’ve found that if I try and do too many things at once, then nothing gets done, so I decided to spend a bit of time on my writing instead of blogging and social media. BUT, a bit of variety is also a good thing, so blogging is still right up there on my list of other important things I really want to do.

But one thing in particular has become very important to me (and Tony) on a day-to-day basis – and that is our morning ritual of having a Good Morning Coffee while we sit and watch the birds having their breakfast from the sun-lounge. I now even do a bird count every day to keep a record of which species (and how many of them) are visiting the garden in a space of about 3/4 hour.

But that’s not the main thing I want to write about today. I want to tell you about a very odd crow we have had coming to the garden. It is a crow we’ve nicknamed ‘Kenneth’, because he has a weird caw that sounds a bit like Kenneth Williams would have done if he had been a crow. See the video below to hear him.

In addition to his voice, poor old Kenneth also looks a bit strange. He (well, we’ve assumed it’s a he, but of course it may be a she) is also quite slight in body for a crow, and slightly smaller than some of the others we have around here. But the thing that is most obvious is that his head is more of a domed shape than the other crows. In fact he has a very jaunty manner – more like a jackdaw or a magpie. But rest assured, he is definitely a crow.

Earlier in the year I even heard him trying to caw normally – although it looked like it took a lot of effort and still came out rather strangled. Nevertheless, it seems that the other crows aren’t too bothered by him and he has even got a completely normal crow mate!

Alas, now that it’s breeding season, he’s disappeared from the scene. Crows are quite territorial at this time and there is already a dominant pair – who we have named Stone and Precious who have chased him and his mate away. This happened last year as well when Kenneth mysteriously disappeared for a couple of months. But he did return in full Kenneth voice in the autumn, much to our relief – so this year we are not so worried.

I even got in touch with a crow expert – Professor Nicky Clayton of the University of Cambridge to ask her opinion on Kenneth’s oddness. She, too was puzzled by the pictures and video I sent her. At first she hypothesised that he might be a hybrid born from a crow and another corvid species (maybe jackdaw). However, this was particularly unlikely as crows aren’t even particularly friendly with others of that family (especially jackdaws and magpies), so unless the crow parent should have gone to Specsavers, we couldn’t see it happening. So, in the end, the conclusion was that Kenneth, strange though he is, is definitely just a crow.

We miss hearing him in the mornings at the moment, and although we are very fond of Stone and Precious – as well as the other birds that come to the bird table – it isn’t the same without him. I would love to know what you think of our wonderful odd crow.

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