This myth partly began in medieval England. Back in those days, there were no handy methods to dispose of old and rotting meat—and meat rotted quickly before the invention of refrigerators. As scavengers and less than picky eaters, ravens became valuable as garbage removal services. In fact, it was actually illegal to kill them. But because they fed on dead things, and because swarms of ravens increased during times of plague and disease (more death means more food for the ravens), many people began to think that ravens brought about death rather than the other way around.
Lots of cultures see ravens as holding a special supernatural power. In England, ravens are ceremoniously kept at the Tower of London (by an official whose real job title is “Ravenmaster”) due to a legend that England would fall if they ever left the Tower. In Ancient Greece, ravens were often seen as a messenger of the God Apollo, while some European cultures saw them as the ghosts of lost souls who weren’t buried properly. You’ll find ravens portrayed as tricksters in Native American folklore, but also as the creator of the world.
The truth is that ravens are extremely intelligent birds and capable of sophisticated problem-solving. Some can even speak a few words. Their uncanny intelligence, dark appearance, and appetite for dead flesh gives them a famously spooky reputation. Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven,” in which a raven famously croaks “Nevermore,” has definitely helped keep this myth alive!
As for other beliefs about crows, in Hinduism, a particular call of a Jungle Crow outside one’s home could signify the impending death of a family member or relative, and another that a guest is about to arrive. And, if any of this does happen (by chance of course!), then the elders would say, “I told you so”! If you witness only a single crow that is flying across your way is probably an indication of misfortune as watching a single crow is ill-fated and unpropitious.