Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children

Number 469



Hello Everyone

Bill, Bob and l went for a walk in the wood behind Auntie Alice’s cottage last weekend. 


There were a huge number of crows building nests high up in the trees at the far side of the wood.  They were making a lot of noise as they were calling out.


Crows are big birds and can carry large sticks up to make nests with.


lf someone asked you to say which is the most intelligent bird, you might say the owl because owls are depicted as such in stories and fairy tales.


The sad truth is that they are not really very bright.


You might say parrots.  They are very intelligent. They like playing with toys and getting attention from their owners when they live with people.  And of course they are great mimickers; which means it sounds like they are able to talk.


But scientists think that the most intelligent birds are the family of perching birds called the corvids.


You will know corvids better as the crow family.


ln fact, there are eight birds in Britain that are corvids.  They have mainly black, white and blue plumage (feathers).  There are very many more corvids around the world and the tropical ones have some very brightly-coloured plumage.


Corvids are found everywhere except at the foot of South America, some small islands and the Arctic and Antarctic.


lf food sources are good, they do not tend to migrate.


Male and female corvids look very similar.  Partner bonds are very strong – some lasting a lifetime.


The magpie is easily identified because it is black and white.  lt hops around in towns and countryside.  Originally it was called a pie because it had more than one colour but in the 1500s ‘mag’ meaning ‘chatterer’ was added to the front of the word.  Magpies have a very distinctive, rattling call.


Magpies used to be frequently shot in the past, but since this practice was stopped in the 1980s their numbers have risen.


ln Elizabethan times, if you killed a crow, rook or jackdaw you could receive money as a reward.  They were thought to eat too much of the grain crops.


The jay has a similar way of flying across the sky to a magpie but is more colourful.  lt has blue and pink feathers on its side. lt will hop along the ground too.


The chough (pronounced chuff) often lives by the coast so you won’t see them everywhere.  They can be seen nesting on cliff tops or disused quarries in the west of the British lles.  They have red bills and legs.


Most crows will build nests out of sticks high up in tall trees or in a convenient tree hollow.


The other corvids in Britain are the hooded crow, rook, raven, carrion crow and jackdaw, which are all mostly or all black.  These birds walk like we do rather than hop like the magpie and the jay.


These five birds are not so easy to tell apart to the untrained eye.


The hooded crow has a grey back and chest. 


Rooks have a greyish white beak and little feather ‘trousers’.  You are unlikely to see one on its own.


Ravens and carrion crows are all black but the raven has a slightly chunkier beak than the crow and a ‘fluffier’ throat. 


A jackdaw has a silvery sheen to the back of its head.  When jackdaws are babies in the nest, they have sky blue eyes.  These eyes turn brown and after two years jackdaws have bright white eyes.  These eyes look very scary and intimidating to a potential enemy or predator.


Corvids have strong, scaly feet and pointed down-curved bills.  They have very beady eyes.


They tend to support each other inside communities and you will often see them congregate together.  Young birds have been observed playing games together.


Some communities of rooks can consist of thousands of birds.  These places are called rookeries.


Young corvids will remain in the nest for many weeks after hatching.  They stay with their parents for a long time which gives them the opportunity to learn skills from them.


Some corvids are aggressive and will attack other large birds and even cats, dogs and lambs.


Corvids are omnivores which mean they will eat a huge range of foods.  They will eat insects, worms, berries, fruit and seeds.  They will eat small birds and animals and very often carrion (like road kill).  A lot of them will eat food left around by humans and some are tame enough to approach people in parks and gardens expecting to be thrown some titbits just like the pigeons and ducks.


Some corvids like ravens have been kept as pets and can mimic sounds, including words, but don’t tend to have the range of sounds that a parrot can produce.  Corvids do not do well in small cages.


ln folklore, these birds are associated with witches, acting as familiars in the same way a black cat would do.  A familiar is a witch’s companion that has the ability to travel through the night unseen.


ln Celtic tradition, ravens watched over the souls of those who fell in battle and nowadays they keep watch over the Tower of London to keep it safe. 


The Norse god Odin was associated with ravens.


A group of crows is called a murder of crows – you can also use the words ‘mob’, ‘muster’, ‘parliament’ and there are more.


Crows, ravens and jackdaws are considered to be very intelligent because they have the ability to use tools and solve puzzles.  They are inclined to do this because of the reward of food once a puzzle is solved.  They can use sticks to poke at things or in holes.  By using a hooked stick they can winkle out insect grubs from holes in trees.


They can use stones to drop on things like nuts to break them open or even leave them in the path of cars – waiting for the tyres to crack the shells open for them.  They observe traffic lights to know when cars will stop and go!


They seem to have the ability to very quickly work out new ways of tackling puzzles presented to them and their learning abilities are similar to great apes (which are the nearest animal to humans).


Scientists have also observed that corvids have good memories and recognition skills.  These are traits you find in animals that live in social groups.


They hide food to store it away long-term and can remember where they have hidden it months later.


The Eurasian magpie is thought to be the only non-mammal able to recognize itself in a mirror.


Magpies have been observed taking part in what seem to be grieving rituals like funerals as they lay tufts of grass as gifts for departed members of their group.


A crow was documented in 1999 feeding a stray kitten.  lt collected insects and worms and pushed them into the kitten’s mouth.  lt in effect became the kitten’s mother.


The crow constantly walked around the area with the kitten and protected it.


lt taught the kitten the road was dangerous.  lt called out to it when it tried to cross the road and shoved it back with its body.


Eventually some kind humans put cat food out for the kitten and took it inside for the night.  The crow would be waiting for the kitten every morning.  lt would only take a little of the food from the plate and let the kitten have most of it. 


The pair became the greatest of companions.


They would tease each other and play together.


The crow was the only mother figure the kitten had had when it was left to fend for itself, and the crow was the only reason it survived.



lf you like my blog, please support it by telling all your friends and followers about it.


Thank you!


And see you again next Fun Friday!


Love and kisses



Salty Sam





Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Weekjokejoke


Bill:  Where do corvids go to relax after work?


Bob:  l don’t know.  Where do corvids go to relax after work?


Bill:  To a crow bar!



Salty Sam © Christina Sinclair 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

Links may be used to



Picture Gallery







Hooded crow






Carrion crow




Mortimer the Crow









Last weekend, the whole family met at Auntie Alice’s cottage for Sunday lunch.

We went for a short walk after lunch and could hear the crows circling over the woods behind her cottage.


A crow is a corvid


Afterwards, some of us sat around the coffee table in the living room to play some board games.

My Auntie Alice has lots of board games to choose from in her cottage.

She keeps them in a cupboard – and she keeps them vertically.

When you put books on a shelf vertically you can select a book and pull it out without disturbing the others.  It is the same with DVDs.

So storing lots of things vertically is a good idea for lots of items.

You can store board games vertically so you don’t have to lift piles out to get to what you want. 

But you might like to make hinges on one side of the box with some pieces of tape so that when you pull the box out it won’t open and drop all the things inside onto the floor.  Keep the hinges on the bottom and catch hold of the top firmly with your fingers.  If you put rubber bands round boxes they can become ‘sticky’ and catch on each other.

If you store board games in an ottoman or coffee table where the lid lifts up, this idea works even better.

You can also store, files, notebooks, binders, photograph albums, baking pans, food containers and their lids in this way too so that you can see what you have and then access what you want easily.

If you had a plastic bag in a board game that has split and fallen apart, you may want to knit this little bag to keep your game pieces in so that they don’t start getting lost.

The bag can be laid in the box to keep all the little pieces together.






Using 4mm knitting needles and dk yarn cast on 24 stitches


Knit 1 row

Knit 1 row


Slip 1 (knit 2, purl 2) repeat last 4 stitches until 3 stitches remain, knit 2, purl 1


Slip 1 (purl 2, knit 2) repeat last 4 stitches until 3 stitches remain, purl 2, knit 1


Slip 1 (purl 2, knit 2) repeat last 4 stitches until 3 stitches remain, purl 2, knit 1


Slip 1 (knit 2, purl 2) repeat last 4 stitches until 3 stitches remain, knit 2, purl 1


Repeat the last 4 rows 10 times


Knit 4 rows of stocking stitch


Knit 8 rows of garter stitch


Cast off



Using over-sew stitches and with right sides together sew the bottom and side seams.

Crochet 70 chains into a length of yarn and weave this around the stocking stitch panel around the top of the bag.

Tie the ends of the cord together.









Quick Quiz


Can you work out what these different birds are?

They are not corvids.


C _ _ _ _ _ N

O _ L

V _ _ _ _ _ E

l _ _S

D _ _ E

S _ _ _ _ _ W






lt’s the Weekend!




Not all black birds are corvids.

This penguin is black and white.  He has a scarf and hat too in case he gets too cold.



Using 4mm knitting needles and yellow dk yarn cast on 4 stitches

Knit 2 rows of garter stitch

Decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of every row of garter stitch until 1 stitch remains

Cast off



Using 4mm knitting needles and black dk yarn cast on 10 stitches

Knit 2 rows of stocking stitch

Decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of the next 8 rows until 2 stitches remain

Knit 2 together

Cast off



Using 4mm knitting needles and white dk yarn cast on 10 stitches

Knit 2 rows of garter stitch

Knit 16 rows of stocking stitch

Change to black

Knit 10 rows of stocking stitch

Don’t cast off – leave a length of yarn for sewing up when you cut off your yarn and leave your stitches on this yarn



Using 4mm knitting needles and black dk yarn cast on 12 stitches

Knit 2 rows of garter stitch

Knit 26 rows of stocking stitch

Don’t cast off – leave a length of yarn for sewing up when you cut off your yarn and leave your stitches on this yarn



Using 4mm knitting needles and white dk yarn cast on 30 stitches

Cast off



Using 4mm knitting needles and purple dk yarn cast on 12 stitches

Purl 1 row

Purl 1 row

Continue working in stocking stitch

Decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of every row until 1 stitch remains

Cast off

Cut your yarn off leaving enough for sewing up



Using 4mm knitting needles and purple dk yarn cast on 30 stitches

Cast off



  1. Using over-sew stitching and with right sides together sew side seams of head and body
  2. Turn right sides out and pull top of head in tight
  3. Stuff the body
  4. Bind a length of black yarn around the neck and pull in tight then secure ends and push inside the stuffing
  5. Curl the knitting for the base around and sew across it several times to make a solid disc
  6. Pinch the base of the body out at the back to make a tail and sew the base into the hole that is left towards the front of the bottom of the body
  7. Fold the wings in half using over-sew stitching with right sides together
  8. Turn the right way out and sew onto the sides of the body
  9. Sew the feet to the bottom of the body
  10. Add the grey French knot eyes and nose before or after sewing up – wrap the yarn around your yarn needle twice
  11. And a French knot yellow beak – wrap the yarn around your yarn needle three times
  12. Sew the sides of the hat up using over-sew stitching with wrong sides together
  13. Tie the scarf around the neck – if you want a longer scarf, cast on 40 stitches instead of 30




Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use and for use in classrooms only.

It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.

Use of the toys and projects is at your own risk.

©Christina Sinclair Designs 2015sand



Quick Quiz Answers


  1. CHlCKEN
  2. OWL
  4. lBlS
  5. DOVE









Embroidery Stitches

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *