A young couple walking arm in arm through Kennedy Park in Lewiston on Sunday night was accosted by a flock of crows but managed to get away with just a stain on the young man's coat.
"That was gross," said the young girl, not wanting to be identified. She and her friend ran off, hoping to avoid more surprises.
Crows are members of the Corvidae family, which includes ravens, magpies and blue jays. They are loud, rambunctious and intelligent, but often are associated with fear and loathing.
They are considered pests by farmers and anybody who has had their vehicle plastered from crows roosting above. Research has found that crows are very social and caring creatures — and among the smartest animals on the planet.
According to a Vermont Wildlife fact sheet, in early spring large flocks of crows, called murders, break up into small groups of two to five birds, usually made up of parents and last year's offspring.
During this time, the pair will establish a territory. The male and female build a nest from late March to mid-April. The crows build large nests, about 12 inches in diameter, out of sticks, weed stalks and vines, lining them with feathers, grass and small roots.
The female lays three to eight blue-green eggs with gray or dark-brown splotches. Both the male and female incubate the eggs for 18 days. Once the young leave the nest, the crows gather in large groups to roost. These flocks can number as many as 100,000. They roost together at night and break into smaller groups for feeding during the day.
A recent study shows they have a unique family structure. Adult crows never chase away their offspring, and the young often stay with the adults to help raise and defend the next brood. This is uncommon among other bird species.
While many are frightened by the large number of ominous-looking birds flying together at night, often associating them with the occult or impending death, there are hundreds of stories of people raising young crows that have fallen out of their nests, creating a lifelong bond with the birds.
However, if you are walking along and are suddenly — and grossly — hit by their droppings, you are not so likely to be enamored with them.