I enjoyed reading your rook/crow stories in the comments on my yesterday's post. It seems I am not alone in loving them. Here in the UK we say you can distinguish between rooks and crows (if you wish to do so) by the saying - ' if there's more than one crow, they're usually rooks'. This refers, loosely, to the fact that rooks are very sociable birds and like to live in close proximity to other rooks - hance the enormous rookeries like the one below our farm in Forty Acre wood. Crows, on the other hand, are fairly solitary. If there is one nest high in a tree (and how easy they are to see in Winter when the leaves have gone) then that nest is usually a crow's nest. And yes, I agree with Bovey Belle that 'shooters' do not like crows - they accuse them of taking other bird's eggs and babies (some truth in this but live and let live in nature, I say.)
I thought you might be interested to hear why I like rooks so much. I am deep into making Christmas puddings and cakes (4 of each for various friends) so have no chance of going outside to photograph today (who would wish to anyway as it is another grey cold day). So I thought I would do a post about my childhood - at the end of which you will understand my love of the bird.
I was born and brought up in the Lincolnshire Fens. My parents were quite old when I was born - I had a sister twenty-two years older than me and a brother eleven years older than me (both have died some years ago). We lived in what was then a small village (it is now almost a small town). I was definitely an 'after-thought', my mother not being aware she was pregnant until she was taken ill and rushed into hospital, at which point I was born weighing only three pounds and spending my first month in an incubator. They were wonderful parents in spite of the surprise of my birth.
When the second world war started my sister was already married and my brother was immediately called up into the army. So from the age of about six I was, to all intents and purposes, an only child. That can be quite lonely.
But I had lots of friends - this was a friendly village and we all went to the village school until we were eleven. So in many ways it was an idyllic childhood in spite of the war - lots of airfields in the flat lands of Lincolnshire meant lots of army and airforce personnel around in addition to evacuees from various cities. Suddenly there was a lot more going on around us and I loved it.
At eleven I won a scholarship to the grammar school in the city of Lincoln and had to make another set of friends there - but my village friends are friends to this day
although I now live away from Lincolnshire.
But one thing was constant through all this time. We lived opposite to the village church and surrounding the village church was a huge wood - and in that wood was a huge rookery. I awoke each morning to the sound of rooks and I went to bed each night to the sound of rooks. My bedroom window was on the level of some of their nests and I would look out onto mother and father rooks worn out with feeding their young. I would watch young rooks learning to fly, taking off unsteadily from the branch and suddenly realising that their wings would carry them along. And I would grieve with the rooks at what seems to have been an annual rook=shoot cull, when the whole colony would erupt in turmoil, shout and scream their objections and be left decimated at the end of the day. I am told that when I was about two I toddled down our garden path and, finding a dead rook on the grass, picked it up and sucked on its beak!! I prefer not to think about that.
But now, living here in the North Yorkshire countryside, I feel I have come home at last, home to the rooks I love so much and to countryside which, apart from the odd hill or two, is not so very different from where I came from.