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Why Do Crows Caw? (Scientific & Spiritual Meanings)

Why Do Crows Caw

The crow is a unique bird that has a lot of myths and lore surrounding it. Part of its spooky corvid reputation deals with its pitch-black feathers. Other parts of crows’ reputations come from their behaviors, including their caw.

Did you ever hear a murder of crows cawing away at something? Did you wonder why these mysterious creatures do it? You might be surprised to learn the reasons. 

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What are the scientific reasons that crow caw?

Crowing is a form of communication that crows use, not unlike the way that humans talk to one another. With that said, there are a number of reasons a crow may start squawking at a member of its flock.

Alarm Signals

One of the most common reasons a crow will start making noise deals with spotting a predator in the crow’s territory. This helps keep other crows safe and will help them decide how to best evade the threat. 

This alarm is also true if you befriend a crow. They may try to protect you by crowing if they see a cat or someone they don’t like nearby. In one experiment, a person carrying a dead crow walked near a murder. 

This person had befriended them earlier, but the crows didn’t go near the person as long as the dead crow was nearby. They were cawing out of the worry that this person may be close to something in poor health.

PRO TIP – Crows can start squawking incessantly when they see something they associate with death. They may do this as a warning, or simply because they are sensitive to death as a species. 

Call To Arms

Did you know that crows will actively defend each other from rivals? It’s true, and when they do, they often will crow aggressively to alert others to help. (It’s a lot like Braveheart, except with crows instead of people painted blue.)

If you have upset crows (or if a predator attacks a number of crows), they may actually start cawing as a way to intimidate you and get others to attack you. 

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Anger

Much like humans, crows are very sensitive creatures that have no problem speaking their minds. Along with alarm calls and fight songs, crows will occasionally squawk as a way of showing that they are angry at you.

For example, if crows see you have food and you don’t share, they may start to crow at you. It’s their way of saying, “Yo, bro! Gimme food! I’m annoyed at you!”

On a similar note, crows will also caw at their young if their chicks are ticking them off. Apparently, being an annoyed parent is a universal experience. 

Funerals

Funerals

One of the reasons why groups of crows are called “murder” deals with their behavior at the death of a flock mate. Crows (and other corvids like ravens) actually hold funerals for their own.

Crows will grieve their fallen friends by surrounding the body and cawing for hours on end. This is part of the reason why people tend to associate them with death. Crow funerals are one of the more obvious examples of animals having feelings.

Greetings

If you befriend a crow, then don’t be surprised if they end up cawing at you when you come outside. A friendly crow will also squawk at you to say, “Hey, I’m here! What’s up, homeslice!?”

Crows are pretty talkative birds. They greet one another, other birds, and yes, you, too. If you notice crows squawking at each other, they are usually just having a crow conversation!

Hunger

Did you ever have a moment where you were so hungry, you just wanted to let the world know? Yep. Crows, being the way that they are, will start to squawk if they are hungry and ready to scavenge for food. 

Crows are pretty clear when they caw at people eating food. They’re pretty much asking for a bite. While you might not want to feed them what you’re eating, the message they send out remains pretty much the same. 

Now, let’s look at the superstitions behind crows that caw…

let's look at the superstitions behind crows that caw.

While we all can appreciate the more “earthy” reasons why a crow would caw, the truth is that most people heavily associate this bird with something a bit more supernatural. Even if you aren’t superstitious, it’s fun to hear the omens people associate with them. 

Death

Crows are considered to be harbingers of death, and that’s part of the reason why they are often considered to be bad luck. If you hear a crow cawing at your doorstep at night, it’s a sign your loved one (or even you) may become sick and die. 

On a similar note, seeing more than five crows or hearing a crow caw five times can also be a sign of poor health for you or your loved ones. However, that’s only one interpretation of this superstition. Not all people see crows as bad luck!

PRO TIP – Crows aren’t the only birds associated with death. Owls and vultures are also fairly frequently mentioned as omens of death. 

Good Luck

If you have two to four crows that are currently cawing at you, congratulations. This is actually purported to be a good omen. It’s a sign of good luck, good health, and at times, even a little extra fortune. 

Some groups also believe that this could be an indicator that you’re getting blessings after doing a particularly good deed. Certain pagan deities are linked to crows as their pet of choice. It could be a blessing from a pagan deity. 

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Uninvited Guests

Did you ever have that one friend who always seems to get on your nerves? You might know them as that friend that invites themselves to events and parties, even when you try to hide the details from them. 

If you notice a crow cawing at your windowsill during the day, you might want to brace yourself. You’re going to get an unwanted guest sometime soon and spirits are trying to give you a heads up. Brace yourself for a headache!

Spiritual Activity Nearby

Because crows are so famously linked to death, it comes as no surprise that certain cultures claim them to be capable of seeing spirits. Some even claim that crows are attracted to them. Seeing them hanging out nearby could be a sign of spirits. 

This also tends to go hand-in-hand with the belief that crows tend to be omens of death. A good rule of thumb is that you should assume that crows will congregate around haunted areas…if you believe this superstition. 

A Deceased Relative

A Deceased Relative

Perhaps one of the more heartwarming beliefs people hold deals with crows’ link to the afterlife. Many people believe that crows can actually act as messengers or even temporary vessels for people who have passed on. 

In certain cultures, it’s believed that crows can act as a messenger for the dead. In other words, if you recently lost a loved one, then seeing a crow cawing at your window could be their way of saying that they are okay, they’re still around, and that they care. 

It’s not unusual for people who recently lost someone to see crows near their window or even see crows build a nest around their home. If you see a sudden influx of crows after a bereavement, it’s okay to assume that it’s a sign of your loved one saying hello.

Time To Pray!

Crows are also seen as messengers to the spirit world. If you see a crow cawing at you, this could mean that it’s a good time to pray. Word has it that your prayers will be more likely to be answered if a crow is nearby to send them to the spirit world.

This is particularly true if you are praying for good fortune, in memory of a loved one, or for protection from harm. Practitioners of magic also view the presence of crows as a good omen and a sign of success in their endeavors.

PRO TIP – If you are a person who believes in magic, consider looking at which deities are represented by crows. It could help you figure out if you have been blessed by a specific deity, or could help you figure out what the crowing can mean for you and your future.

In conclusion…

Crows are very unique birds that love to chat it up, and they do it all by cawing. In nature, there are tons of different reasons you might hear a crow caw. It could be hunger, a chosen greeting, or even something as dire as a call to arms. 

There are also plenty of superstitions dealing with crows calling out to people. If you want to get a little more spiritual with your interpretations, simply recognize that crows can be messengers for the spirit realm.

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