In Second Sons (season 3, episode 8), a murder of crows gathers outside

the hut where Samwell and Gilly intend to spend the night, before a White Walker approaches.

Why do they gather there? Are they anticipating the arrival? Why would that make them want to gather there?

Explanations from the books are welcome, although if it’s possible to avoid spoilers beyond that episode of the TV show, that would be appreciated.

3 Answers 3


Those are not crows, but Ravens:

He [Sam] heard the dark red leaves of the weirwood rustling, whispering to one another in a tongue he did not know. The starlight itself seemed to stir, and all around them the trees groaned and creaked. Sam Tarly turned the color of curdled milk, and his eyes went wide as plates. Ravens! They were in the weirwood, hundreds of them, thousands, perched on the bone-white branches, peering between the leaves. He saw their beaks open as they screamed, saw them spread their black wings. Shrieking, flapping, they descended on the wights in angry clouds. They swarmed round Chett's face and pecked at his blue eyes, they covered the Sisterman like flies, they plucked gobbets from inside Hake's shattered head. There were so many that when Sam looked up, he could not see the moon.

Of course, the TV-show might have merged the two different occasions. In the books, Sam first faces the Other (the white walker) and kills it with his dragonglass dagger. He then faces the wight of Small Paul, where the dragonglass dagger fails him, but he is saved by fire and ravens and (possible SPOILER for season 4)

Coldhands, a wight in service of the Three-Eyed Crow. In the books, the Ravens are sent by the Three-Eyed Crow (who we know is a frequent subject of Bran's dreams in AGOT), who needs Sam to bring Bran through the Wall, because his servant cannot pass through the wall.

Are you sure you want to know the rest? If you do not know, I would wait for Season 4 and allow myself to be surprised by the (many) revelations that are bound to happen then.

  • Aha! Wikipedia was wrong about the bird species. Excellent answer, I think that explains things just right for this stage of the TV series. Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 0:42
  • I’m also delighted to learn that there’s a member of the Night’s Watch called Small Paul, that was my nickname at university. Even better, he’s a simpleton. Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 0:45
  • 1
    GRRM is fond of simpletons. ;) I hope the TV-show can overcome the despondency of the books after the Red Wedding. Sam's immediate storyline will be most interesting.
    – TLP
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 1:08
  • Sure — having not read the books I’ve only got the TV show to go on, but I guess it might mean spending more time with Stannis’s bunch and the Greyjoys, neither of which exactly promises a barrel of laughs. Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 16:07
  • 1
    You should read the story about Stannis' hawk proudwing.
    – TLP
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 23:25

I believe that in various other scenes for ASoIaF, crows precede the arrival of white walkers and wights in general, but I could be totally wrong. Crows and ravens more generally are considered as messengers in the world, recall AGoT where where Bran had a dream presaging

Ned's death

Finally, you may recall that the Night's Watch are referred to as 'Crows'. It may again also have something to do with later plot points from ADWD, which you expressly do not want to know yet :)

Generally, they are symbols of death, messengers, the Night's Watch and 'some other stuff'.

  • 1
    If you have read the books, you will know that the ravens and Coldhands came together.
    – TLP
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 23:49
  • Yes, that's quite right, but it does not necessarily provide a solution to the wight/raven connection, just another example. Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 23:56

A little theory of mine... of course I just have a wild imagination: There were a thousand birds on the trees that night, and there were also a thousand Three Eyed Ravens, each controlling one bird and watching through its eyes. Each of the thousand Three Eyed Ravens existed/exist/will exist in separate periods throughout time. They could be from hundreds of thousands of years in the past, or hundreds of thousands of years in the future, or both. Why were they controlling those birds on the trees that night and watching through their eyes? Well, they were all watching to see the first time in history that a White Walker was killed by a man. No different than when Bran saw past events with the help of his mentor. In fact, Bran was probably inside one of those birds that night, watching Sam kill the White Walker.

  • If there is any canon support for this can you show it? I've never heard anything like it.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 4:19
  • No, just my wild imagination.
    – Andy
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 4:54
  • Welcome to SFF.SE! You should take our tour and visit our help center to see what kind of answers we are looking for. Generally we want answers supported by source material, fan theories are typically not well received.
    – Skooba
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 19:19
  • 1
    Don't deface your answers just because you're not happy with them.
    – Möoz
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 22:37

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