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Why the Crow Is Black

Out of the 810 species of North American birds, the only completely black birds are the crow and the raven. Here's a story that explains why the crow is black, according to Native American tradition. When Crow came into the world, he wore all the colors of the rainbow, but the other animals and birds were black. To look more like them, Crow shook himself until all the colors flew out and landed on all the other birds and animals. The only color left on Crow was black, and he has stayed black to this day.

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Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Why the Crow Is Black
Written by Frances Wood

This is BirdNote!
[Caws of agitated American Crows]
Surprisingly, out of the 810 species of North American birds there are only two that are completely black: the American Crow [Crows calling] and the Common Raven [Call of the Common Raven].
[Editor's note: Sorry, Listeners! This earlier version of the story was meant only for Pacific Northwest ears but made it to a more universal audience. We obviously neglected to mention all the other species of crows and ravens, among them the Northwest Crow, the Fish Crow, the Tamaulipas Crow, and the Chihuahuan Raven. We will be revising the story. And thanks to all those who let us know of our error.]
We’re not sure why the raven is all black, but here’s a story that explains why the crow is black. It comes from the Native American tradition.
[Begin drumming]
When the world began, the only colors were black and white. All the animals and birds were black. Then Crow came into the world, and Crow wore all the colors of the rainbow. The other birds and animals teased Crow because he was different and, in their eyes, he was ugly. Crow became very sad and wanted to look like the other animals. So he shook himself. He shook and shook his feathers until all the colors flew out. The colors landed on all the other birds and animals. The jay was covered in blue, the robin in orange, and a bit of red landed on the woodpecker. The only color left on Crow was black. And he has stayed black to this day.
[Single American Crow cawing]
Listen to this story again and learn more at our Web site, BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein.
###
Call of the single American Crow provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, recorded by G.A. Keller; Common Raven by R.S. Little.  Common Raven clucking recorded by G.A. Keller.
Musical selection from Paul Winter’s Canyon, Grand Canyon Sunrise, Glen Velez drummer
Angry crows recorded by C. Peterson
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2009 Tune In to Nature.org        Revised for Oct. 2009 / 2017

ID# 102705AMCRKPLU        AMCR-04b-2009-10-27-MS           

 

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