Known as the bringer of bad omen in various cultures around the world, the crow had not enjoyed a good reputation. In many old folk tales and superstition, crow sightings were usually associated with looming bad news; ill health, conflict and even death in the family – all of which are often perpetuated in works of fiction today.
Not surprisingly, in the English language itself, the collective noun for a group of crows is ‘murder’ (hence, “a murder of crows”).
Go beyond the commonly held superstitious beliefs, one will find that the crow has more positive symbolic association than just with the dark side. In ancient pagan and earth-based religion, the black bird is often attributed with magical qualities as bringers of hidden knowledge, prophecy, skill and cunning. In Native American culture, the crow is one of the respected animals, believed to be shape-shifting tricksters entrusted with talents for teaching life lessons to humans.
By nature, crows are actually intelligent and caring birds. They are sociable creatures, roosting in large numbers to protect one another from their natural enemies and humans. In times of danger, crows can use up to 250 different distress calls to warn other crows of an arriving foe.
Perhaps the best significance ever associated with this bird is that of transformation. As the messenger of death, an image of a crow can symbolize that an end must occur to make way for a new beginning.