When I was a boy I realized that crows were my personal call of the wild. We had no wolves or coyotes in New Jersey, but there were thousands of crows. Our house sat on a flat parcel of naked land on a hill top. In front and back the land slowly dropped away into farmland and a small drainage. To the east, off in the disance, was Rt. 202 and the town of Three Bridges. We were close enough to Rt 202 that I could hear the semis at night and the Three Bridges church bells on Sunday mornings.
To the west the fields rose quickly beyond the creek to another divide, and much farther off I could see the steeple of a church in Cherryville, and we were close enough to Flemington that I could hear the stock car races at the Fair Grounds on Saturday nights and see the fireworks during the fair. Most of the view was of forest, and all the man-made features had to stand tall to poke out over the tree tops.
We named the creeks (always called brooks) after the farms they ran through, Beavers on the east and Sajacks in the west. From my bedroom window I could watch the dairy cattle in Sajacks' upper field, though in the summer they were moved to the mostly invisible lower field so that the upper could be planted in corn. In winter the farmer spread manure in the snowy upper field and thousands of crows would congregate to pick any gain out of the cow shit.
The crows drove me crazy, calling out enmass and daring me to try to shoot them. Many farmers hate crows. I've watched them pull up fresh sprouts of corn to devour the seeds. They can do serious damage, though the big flocks have broken up by the time the spring corn sprouts. In most states there is no closed season on crows and no bag limit. They are classified as vermin. I used to read Bert Popowski stories in the outdoor magazines where he and a buddy would call in and kill 100+ crows in a morning. They dead birds hung in the trees around them like black rags. A bunch of crows is called a Murder, and once they get jacked up into a frenzy they can be shot at and called back time after time. I also had a book with Canadian Ray Weeks' stories about shooting crows with a long range rifle, and he and his buddies might each kill 300-500 crows a year. In my whole life in New Jersy I shot maybe five crows, they were that elusive, and my hunting range was that small.
When I was a senior in high school I caught a fledgling crow while hiking/hunting along Beaver's brook. It could barely fly and I ran it down, then I sat against a tall oak, the crow on my lap, thinking how cool it would be to keep it for a pet. But in the fall I was headed to college in Colorado and the crow couldn't go, and I had the summer's work to finish off, and after long consideration I released the crow. It was quick to leave, hopping at first and then launching into some low branches.
Much later at the Grand Canyon the crows were replaced by ravens. They were pretty used to people, but not dumb. Its illegal to feed them, but I couldn't not feed them. If I threw food right at my feet they'd study the situation for a minute, then shuffle up sideways ducked low, ready to flee at any movement. Then they'd grab the treat and jump back about 10' where they felt safe. When we moved on to the Petrified Forest the ravens were solitary and wanted nothing to do with people. The ones at the Canyon had been corrupted. But not tamed.
I occasionally hear ravens from my home in Virginia. Once I stood on a mountain top and watched a boil of vultures riding tight circles in an updraft. Once they reached the top of the boil they'd peel off to search for carrion, but mixed in with them were a handful of ravens, soaring just for the fun of it, and not anxious to leave their home range. At home now I put out food scraps for the Virginia crows and enjoy how they seem to relish the theft as they fly off. They caw like they are laughing at me, and they are still my call of the wild.