Nature Photographer's Tip: Listen to the Crows!

How do you find the good wildlife shots? Listen to the crows!

American Crow bird cawing, Athens Georgia USA

Caw! Caw! Caw!” The sound of the alarm broke the still morning air. I couldn’t help but hear the American Crows going at it. Instead of ignoring these nuisance birds, I realized something was up. As I approached, this “murder of crows” was “mobbing” a hawk in a tree, raising the alarm and thereby alerting me a great photo opportunity.

Raptor Bird of Prey, Juvenile Red Tailed Hawk profile

Crows are great for sounding the alarm that an adversary is near. Whenever I hear crows sounding alarm, I take notice and know that a wildlife photo-opportunity may be materializing. If the crows are mobbing in the air, there is normally a raptor nearby; if sounding the alarm on the ground, there’s a snake slithering in the grass.

Listening to the crows’ alarms is no new revelation. I once read the account of a 19th century hunter on the trail of some game when he was alerted to danger by crows. While stalking his prey, the overhead alarms alerted him that he himself, the hunter, had become the hunted. The crows were cawing at a Mountain Lion was tracking the hunter. The hunter had become the prey, but was altered by listening to the crows!

Mountain lion on hunt

On another occasion, upon hearing the boisterous crows sounding alarm, I ran over to see them dive-bombing one particular spot in the grass. A distressed Black Racer snake was frantically trying to get away from the pecking cacophony! Again, another wildlife photo opportunity, thanks to the crows!

Black Racer Snake Coiled

So when you’re out hunting for that great wildlife photograph, don’t ignore the crows. Their caterwauling and cawing just might lead you to a quality shot! A snake or raptor could be near!

American Crow on rooftop, Clarke County GA USA

Photo credits: Mikael Males, William Wise.

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June 18, 2019


wonderful images, really like the close up of the hawk

June 07, 2019


Crows and ravens are my favorite birds! Love this blog :)

June 06, 2019


Thanks so much Bettina! 

June 06, 2019


Amazing wildlife shots! Love that snake.

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