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Do crows actually fly in a straight line? © Getty Images

Do crows actually fly in a straight line?

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'As the crow flies' is a pretty common saying but it isn't particularly accurate.

Asked by: Mary Woods, Chichester


Not especially. It’s true that they don’t swoop through the air like starlings or swallows, but crows can often be seen circling above their nests on a winter’s afternoon. The phrase comes from the 18th Century, and probably simply stems from the fact that crows are large, noisy, conspicuous birds often seen flying alone across open countryside.

A related phrase to ‘as the crow flies’ is ‘making a beeline’, but bees don’t fly in particularly straight lines, either.

Read more about birds:


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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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