Odin grows stronger as more and more people hear the calling in their souls and heed the voices of the old gods. The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed of Norse Heathenism and an increase in raven activity is a sure sign of the raven-gods growing strength.
I grew up in West Seattle and spent a good part of every summer at Lincoln Park. At that time (late 40s into the 50s) there were few crows around. Steller Jays were much more common than crows in the park then. I suspect that the growing number of crows has something to do with the increasing urbanization of the Puget Sound basin; crows do extremely well in intensely urbanized environments.
GAT mentions Scrub Jays which are quite common in Oregon but, until recently, were uncommon outside of the very southwest portion of Washington state. Over the last two years, a friend of mine (on Queen Anne Hill) has reported seeing at least a couple of Scrubs in his back yard; another example of a species changing/enlarging its range.
Crows and ravens are, of course, different species and, aside from the difference in size (the raven is significantly larger), and the voice (ravens have a much larger range of vocalizations, ranging from a croak to a "clonk" like someone knocking two pieces of wood together, as well as being highly ventriloquial and able to imitate the calls of many other birds), the easiest way to differentiate between them is the shape of the tail in flight. The crow's tail has a relatively square profile while that of the raven is triangular
Crows in particular and all corvids in general are the very smartest of birds and by some measures are among the smartest of all non-human animals. John Marzluff's latest book Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans, is an outstanding read with many incredible examples of crow and raven behavior along with detailed analysis of how their very complex brains result in human-like traits such as play, mourning, communication of abstract concepts, the creation and use of tools, teamwork, and much more.
I have an eerie "crow story" worthy of a camp fire but here's the short version. I killed one around noon one day in my back yard in North Seattle. Hours later and 20+ miles away I was walking down the fairway of a par 5, alone and on the right side. I had absolutely no food with me. In the distance I see a few crows and had the thought "I wonder if you F'ers know I just blew your brother away". On cue (no shit) they all launch from the trees and flew over to me and were swooping me down the fairway. They harassed me for maybe 80 yards while I'm swinging a 9 iron at them and pretty freaked out. There were other folks around that were not attacked. It was right out of Hitchcock and stays fresh in my mind.
I saw the UW article on PBS. Pretty interesting. IMO, crows use ALL of their brain, and something else too.
David, I watched a PBS special on crows. They do indeed communicate the fact that you've done one of them wrong and the flock will attack you. They also morn over the dead bird.
They also hide their food from the other crows and will pretend to find food to fool the others away from the actual food source.
When I was going to Jr High in NE Oregon, one particular crow would fly into a class room through an open window and walk around checking us out to see if anyone would give up bits of their lunch.
The teacher and the students were accustomed to the crow because it was a regular visitor. It didn't cause any problems so it became a sort of mascot for the class. Eventually he/she would become bored and fly back out the window. We named it Crowbait.
A friend had a crow as a pet from the time it was a chick. The crow never flew away but hung around the backyard and would fly down and land on your shoulder to see if you had any food. His name was Fred.
I like crows and resent those who shoot them.... and they will seek revenge on your butt if you do!
i live just outside snohomish in the fields. i see lots of all kinds of birds, which i never really appreciated till i lived in a country setting. see plenty of crows, which i love. tons of starlings - which i have a grudging respect for but hate. and i still see lots of robins. what prompted me to reply is that while it's impossible to dislike a robin, they are certainly the stupidist bird i have encountered. an airgun discharge will scatter every starling in a 100 yard radius and they won't return for days or more. but you can stand 30 yards from a robin in plain view and shoot a circle around it without it wondering if it is in danger. i don't shoot them, cause there's no reason to and i like them. but they are lucky to have so much goodwill from mankind or they'd all be dead. i wish the starlings were that dumb.
Last year, I had the pleasure of observing a pair of crows nest right outside my office window in Pioneer Square. I was there when they first showed up with a few sticks. I watched as they methodically constructed the nest over several weeks. I kept my office lights off and wouldn't allow anybody in until the pair was firmly established and couldn't readily move before momma laid the eggs. She would leave, he'd mind the nest. He'd leave, she'd be in charge. Both parents fed the two chicks whose beaks eventually appeared over the rim of the nest.
The chicks quickly grew too big for the nest; they bopped around the fire escape getting more mobile with each day. One day I showed up and they were all gone. Never to be seen again. Honestly, it was kind of sad.
I had always detested crows, but having seen them up close, I gained a new appreciation for the species. I hoped to gather the nest after letting it air out for a week or so, but somebody else snagged it before I could. Mind you, this pair was ten feet from my window. It was one of the coolest natural phenomena I've ever witnessed.