Some birds just have bad reputations no matter what they do. They don't have to peck at windows or fly into the home to ruin your day. Basically, they bring bad luck just by hanging around. Ever since the Greek god Apollo's white crow turned black, this poor breed of animal has served as an omen of illness, death and other bad news.
Superstitious types believe that a crow hanging near the house means an unlucky future, while others agree it's a sure sign that someone in the house will die. Want to protect yourself during a crow sighting near the home? Forget what the neighbors will think and either bow to the crow or tip your hat to him, which should reduce your risk of disaster. If you happen to see a solitary crow, feel free to make a wish – some see a crow sitting alone as the ultimate good luck charm [source: Webster].
Some associate certain numbers of crows with either good or bad luck, and many link these bird-counting superstitions to the band Counting Crows. Interestingly enough, though, the band's name actually comes from a dire English proclamation that life is "as useless as counting crows" – which has nothing to do whatsoever with luck or superstition [source: Darling].
Author's Note: 10 Superstitions About Birds
In late October 2013, all of the United Kingdom was put at risk when one clever fox managed to sneak into the Tower of London and devour two of the royal ravens. The country and all its lands were saved thanks to some careful planning on the part of the ravens' minders, who had two spare birds on hand to ensure that at least six birds would always be present in the tower. The expired birds, which went by the names of Jubilee and Grip, were quickly replaced with two more ravens, given these same names as tribute – ensuring Britannia would continue to stand strong.
- Ball, Philip. "Why Birds Can't Avoid Hitting Your Car Windscreen." BBC. Feb. 12, 2014. (Jan 5. 2015) http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140212-why-birds-crash-into-car-screens
- BBC. "Tower of London's Jubilee Raven Released." Dec. 26, 2012. (Jan. 5, 2015) http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-somerset-18611229
- Darling, John. "What's in a Name? The Book of Bands." 2000. (Apr. 1, 2015) https://books.google.com/books?id=sIUs9GwfMVIC&pg=PT17
- The Diagram Group. "The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Superstitions." Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. 1999.
- Martinelli, Patricia A. and Charles A. Stansfield, Jr. "Haunted New Jersey." Stackpole Books. 2014. (Jan. 5, 2015) https://books.google.com/books?id=iEj5Sw10lI8C&pg=PT93
- Mass Audubon. "Birds Attacking Windows." (Jan. 5, 2015) http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/birds-attacking-windows
- Mass Audubon. "Bird Window Collisions." 2015. (Jan 5, 2015) http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/bird-window-collisions
- Mikkelson, Barbara. "The Messenger." Snopes. Jan. 2, 2005. (Apr. 1, 2015) http://www.snopes.com/oldwives/bird.asp
- National Geographic. "Albatross." 2015. (Jan. 5, 2015) http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/albatross/
- Oliver, Harry. "Black Cats and Four-Leaf Clovers: The Origins of Old Wives' Tales and Superstitions in Our Everyday Lives." Penguin. 2010.
- Roud, Steve. "The Penguin Guide to Superstitions of Britain and Ireland." Penguin UK. 2006.
- Tate, Peter. "Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend and Superstition." Random House. 2009.
- Webster, Richard. "The Encyclopedia of Superstitions." Llewellyn Publications. 2008.
Crows are inveterate scavengers. HowStuffWorks looks at how they are being trained as trash pickers in France.