• Sallie
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      I plan to pay more attention to where I see Crows in the city the next time I go there.  This was a really good course to help me understand more about Crows.  I'll return to it after the next time I have a group of Crows come to my local area. Thanks.
      • THOMAS
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        I agree that this is a great course. And what a surprise! I live in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and whenever I see a crow, or a flock of crows, I usually stop whatever I'm doing, and wherever I'm going, to just watch. The course has given me a whole range of behavior/s to pay attention to. It's not that I knew nothing about crows, or ravens, before firing up lesson 1, but the course gives all us some perspective. I say that as somebody who decades ago, at the ages of 11 to 13, had a pet crow for  three successive summers. All in southern Indiana, where I was a lonely, only child with physically abusive parents. My crows were my best friends, not caged, but free to be the intelligent, creative, playful, and affectionate birds that they are. Their names were Pete, Repeat, and Three-peat. At the end of each summer, they were called by thousands of their mates from a large backyard tree to join them. And each of my crows did that. Bittersweet but always with my fondest best wishes. The course has brought back so many fond memories. I've gone through the lessons twice, and each time I learn something new. I want to look at the supplementary materials, too. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to all of you beginning, of course,  with Kevin McCowan.
    • Aline
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Thanks for a great course.  I regularly go back to the crow/raven ID quiz because they are hard to tell apart in pictures, but easier once you know what to look for irl. Urban/suburban smaller crows:  I haven't read the New Scientist feature on Ms. Heiss's work, so I don't know all the information learned from her work.  But I wonder if also crow competition had anything to do with which crows moved into the city.  As in, did smaller crows move to where there is less competition?  I'm statistic-illiterate, but the ranges among the difference indicators -- bill width, weight, calcium -- between rural and suburban crows don't rule out that the suburban crows were simply smaller to begin with and had they stayed in the rural environment, some of them still would have been that small.  Looking at it from another angle, if a cohort of larger, rural crows were moved into the city, would some of them remain large in spite of the city diet? The idea that suburban crows are adaptively smaller so that they have lower nutritional demands to me just means that they can't get the nutrition they need to grow larger.  In the scheme of things, organisms "want" to be larger because size is an advantage in competition for territory, food, mates.  That the nutritional value of food in the city is poorer than in the rural environment may be a factor in why smaller crows live in the city.  They're settling, making do.
    • Karrin
      Participant
      Chirps: 47
      When I see crows, it is usually by / near a dumpster where they are eating whatever they find there. I wonder if there will ever be an anti-bird device to prevent wild creatures from becoming addicted to human food, junk or otherwise?
    • Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I live in the suburbs, in Nassau County, Long Island, NY and have often seen a huge flock of crows hanging around the parking lot of Stew Leonard’s supermarket. They seem to be looking for junk food that people have dropped there. No one else but me appears to take notice of the crows.
    • Very interesting studies! Regarding the crows in the ‘managed’ areas, I agree that pesticides are a likely culprit.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      The chart about the increase in crows' urban population gave me an "aha" moment: I don't recall ever seeing crows in the various cities I've lived in, but now in the last couple of years I've notice that I see them regularly. In particular a flock of them seems to be regularly hanging out around/over a shopping plaza in a semi-urban/semi-suburban area near me in the small city where I live (New Haven, CT). They fly into and over the area in swirls, perch on telephone wires or on top of light poles singly or in groups, and sometimes one or two or more swoop down to get a piece of pizza or other scrap in a parking lot. As a result of this class I'm getting even more enjoyment out of peering at them. I certainly notice their shapes, from the first lesson. Great course.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Very interesting research on size and biomarker differences suburban vs. rural. I live in suburban Maryland--although in an area full of wildlife with many large trees and parks of various sizes / wildness nearby. Our crows are huge! Whenever we see crows somewhere else, we comment on it: I'm not sure we've ever seen crows as large as ours anyway. (I can promise you: They are not ravens :-) ). I wonder what it is about our area that sustains this?
    • I've mainly had an opportunity to observe crows in my suburban neighborhood, which is close to a golf course, & also has significant undeveloped woodland and beach along Lake Erie. I have observed the classic "garbage day" binge - crows getting pizza and whatever junk food they can pry out of plastic bags. This has been less frequent now that owners have a closed recycling can and a closed garbage can (which can be loaded mechanically on the garbage truck). I do know people who feed them leftover bread, which I try to discourage them from doing when I'm telling them about crows and how great they are ... For the 2 crow families that claim our yard (1 acre) as part of their territory, they get a little suet, black sunflower seed, shelled corn in the morning. I also give them left over protein like meat, cheese & fish. Periodically fruit (cherries, blueberries, cut up apples). The suet itself is a combination of beef suet, peanuts, soy and corn.  I also leave out broken oyster shells in a garden bed - this seems to be a big hit with not only the crows, but the bluejays and squirrels. I seem to see all of them nibbling on it. I started this after I read about the bluejays pecking white paint chips from houses in the Northeast.
    • Vicki g
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      I look forward to when we will all be free to travel again - and will for sure watch for the crows! I am here in "suburban" seaside on Cape Cod, MA .... and have never heard any negativity about crows. people like to hear their warning cries alerting when a hawk is in the area - a good signal to look up for some interesting action. We see them feeding on lawns and at the beach, and flocking from tree to tree, but I am now alert to observe them more, as I walk about. This course made me more in tune to the seasonality of their numbers. Seeing many many more now that it is Sept.    this is image is from a tree top in my front yard, about 90 minutes before sunset. I've been observing it almost every late afternoon/eve all summer ... earlier it was most often visited by a young Robin, and also House Finches. Several nights eves ago was the first visit and long perch (about 15 minutes) by a crow, at this time of day. And the Robin has not been seen in a while. IMG_1559                      
    • Lynn
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Rarely see crows in NYC...but yes in SF.
    • Even when I lived in  New York, I never really saw them, except for in city parks
    • Elizabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Interesting experiment and results! I wonder if part of the reason the suburban crows had higher calcium rates than the crows in the managed area is due to what's available. We as humans eat quite a bit of meat (even in Ithaca where there is probably a larger percentage of vegetarians ;) )... maybe the suburban crows have more access to animal bones, etc. in what they forage.
    • Fred
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I am rarely in an urban area with crows, so I can't comment on the question directly.  We live in what may be considered a "sub-rural" area, with large lots (4 acre minimums due to well/septic regulations) and a combination of homes and parkland.  They eat seed, suet and nuts that fall from the feeders we provide for songbirds.  We have plenty of accessible water and we provide a small portion of the food we expect they need, so most comes from there own initiative.  No garbage or dumpsters are around for them to depend on.  They receive all out protein and fat scraps along with some white bread soaked in cooking fat or juice.  We buy low cost protein (frozen chicken livers or gizzards) and provide perhaps 3-4 oz per day.  They watch for me, call the family and arrive soon after I enter the house.  "Assured clear distance" seems to be about 150 feet.  We don't know if this feeding practice is beneficial for them.  We don't know if we should feed them at all, and if it's OK, what is the best food to provide. We have not witnessed any aggression by the neighbors (in fact one family is as fond of them as we are).  Even the predators don't seem to be a problem (a yearling Coopers hawk has been on the ground among them eating the meat scraps we offer!).
    • I live in a very developed suburban community in Southern California, however my immediate neighborhood is an equestrian community and therefore the homes are on large lots (by California standards) and have more open land around them.  I keep horses on my property and I often get to watch the crows going about their business as I care for my horses.  From my barn I can see them raiding the dumpster behind the restaurant across the street and then flying by with whatever they have scavenged, including pieces of meat and bread.  They often come to my horse's water troughs to drink.  Every couple months I will find a half eaten chicken leg or equivalent in a water trough complete with seasoning around the edges.  It might not be the crows dropping their dinner by accident, but they seem a likely source.    My crows also absolutely LOVE to eat my elderly horse's lunch bucket, which consists of soaked alfalfa pellets, rice bran, and beat pulp.  I try not to let them get much of this because it also contains horse medications that are probably not good for the crows, but if I turn my back for a minute the crows will take the opportunity to hop in to my horse's stall and grab a few bites.   They will also forage around in the horse manure in the paddocks, actually breaking open the balls of manure to find grubs or whatever might be in them. My neighborhood also has a lot of fruit trees in people's yards and the crows enjoy the various citrus and other fruit.  In my own yard the mandarins and pears are particular favorites of the crows.  We get a pretty good crop each year so we don't mind sharing with them.  They also forage under my bird feeders where they will find assorted things including dried meal worms and shelled sunflower seeds. There was a time last year when we would have a handful of crows under the feeder and one of them would fly up and ram his body into the feeder which would knock a bunch of food on to the ground where they could get at it.  I thought that was pretty clever!  This only went on for a couple weeks, though, and then they stopped doing this and just went back to picking up the scraps that were dropped by the house finches and blue birds. I have no idea where my crows nest, but after taking this course I am really curious and plan to go looking around the neighborhood.  We have a good number of big trees any of which are possibilities. As far as what people think about them, in my experience most suburbanites don't even notice them.  We don't live very close to the land anymore and it makes me sad that so many people are unaware of such amazing creatures living with us everyday.
    • m
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I live in Stavanger Norway. Crows are much disliked and considered predators on small songbirds, especially in the city (at the same time it considered proper to allow pet cats to live mostly outside, this is called having an "utekatt" -and belling the cat is considered very cruel to the cats). Often, hunting is organised to reduce the crow numbers. The GREAT majority of people think they are destructive, dangerous and a nuisance (as well as the local much reduced and persecuted seagulls) I am very appreciative of both crows and magpies HUGE intelligence and spirit. I am often in awe of their minds and their personalities. I wish there was a way to bring a similar course to Norway! I am a member of the Norwegian ornithological Society and in touch with Martin Eggen who is doing his best to promote wild bird survival along with other members of the NOF by writing and participating in public and political discussions. I will mention this course to him and see if he has any ideas how to bring this education to the Norwegian public.   In Stavanger I often stop to watch crows in the city. They are extremely cautious and wary of people (unlike the merry jaunty magpie) but not of cars or traffic. They are often eating food scraps and unfortunately the plastic and paper and cemetery-paraffin candles and styrofoam. They have an incredible memory of food sources (me and peanuts) and their temporary stores. They usually try to wash everything in a puddle before they eat it.
    • Hindi
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Or maybe crows in urban areas are becoming smaller because there is less space and/or food for them--so smaller is an adaptive technique and they will remain smaller, rather than the idea suggested that they might grow larger as they adapt to living in urban areas.  Diet and available space definitely influence size in all living creatures (both flora and fauna) and could be contributing factors in smaller urban crows.
      • Karrin
        Participant
        Chirps: 47
        I agree - there are SO MANY unanswered questions about crows, aren’t there?
    • Christine
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I am impressed by the questions, studies, and thoughts of Dr. McGowan and his associates.  It really gets me thinking!  I usually see city crows trying to get into fast food bags.  Their perseverance is strong in getting to whatever might be in the bag.
    • Daniel
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Everett Washington, 98203. This course is fabulous. Thanks! I am only three days into my crow watching and here is what I have seen.
      • Our 3/4 acre home site is "wild" with gardens surrounding our home 360 degrees.
      • For the past 9 years I have watched crows in our 'neighborhood' Now I know they are watching me. Cool.
      • Our new (3 years) next-door neighbor puts food containers into their recycling bin, placing white containers on top.  Every week, crows  eat what there is  and consequently distribute trash from her bins all over her yard. Less than 50 feet away, crows never touch our bins. No trash on our yard. We cover the top of our bin with a pieced of brown cardboard....
      • This past summer, late in the summer, a conifer on our property was used as a pre-roosting tree. After talking to each other, the flock - at least 100 birds with an excellent sunset view of Possession Sound in Puget Sound -would take off to parts unknown for their sleepover. I didn't see any eating. Just noise and jumping around.
      • I haven't spotted nests yet. But my new binoculars are getting a wonderful work out.
    • June
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      In Oregon, I often see crows eating squirrel carrion in local streets while dodging traffing. (We have a lot of squirrels in Beaverton.) Crows walk about in lawns, parking lots and gardens searching for insects and whatever else they can find. Crows are designated "the clean-up crew" around here. We have many crows in our area and I have a particular crow family that I feed every morning. There are 8 members of a family and they wait on my patio each morning for their breakfast of wild bird seed, nuts and sometimes left-overs from dinner (chicken or pork). I have tried feeding them fruit such as strawberries or banana, but they seem to have no interest. When I go "birding" at our local nature park, there is a family of crows who wait near the ducks for hand-outs from visitors feeding the ducks. While I was in this park last summer, a crow landed on the hood of my car and pecked at my windshield for food. It was surprising and amusing at the audacity of this crow who was brave enough to land on my car and demand food! Naturally, it got its way. Crows are fascinating birds because they are intelligent and one can actually have relationships with them. They react kindly to people they like and scold those they don't like. I look forward to seeing them in my yard each morning.  
    • Elizabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      I work in the Michigan Audubon office in Okemos, MI. It is on a quiet road with several office buildings, surrounded by residential neighborhoods. The crows in this territory may be living/nesting in the tall conifers that divide the office buildings and the neighborhood. They fly around and feed all around the office buildings. Being a nature-oriented office building, we have planted bird-friendly plants all around us. I don't know what they're eating but something is keeping them around. There are tall locust trees on the road side of the office buildings. They hang out in there a lot, and do a lot of talking. When I walk my dogs out there mid-day and at the end of the day to get in my car, they are chatting up a storm, and I always assume it's about us :)
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 30
      I've also seen them on Cape Cod where we live in a suburban area near a nature preserve - lots of tall pine and old trees. They forage on the beach at the high and low tide marks, especially around garbage receptacles on the "public beach" - but only when people are not nearby (unlike seagulls which hardly acknowledge humans when they are eating and foraging). I leave peanuts for them early in the morning but rarely do I catch a glimpse of them foraging the peanuts, as they wait until there are no cars in the driveway or no person in sight. Sometimes I've surprised them when by sneaking home suddenly and they raucously scream (in outrage at being disturbed?) and fly away. I've managed to get close - when there is one loner on a rooftop or telephone wire - almost below them - if I make crow sounds and the crow calls back.  They are curious. I've also seen large flocks of 30 or so on people's yards, although I don't know what they are eating there. Again, if I stop to watch, they all will fly away, calling.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 30
      In NYC, I see them on rooftops eating scraps - I've seen them eating a pigeon wing left by a red-tailed hawk, as well as pizza crust, and even dog poop -  from garbage, sometimes fighting over or playing with scraps of styrofoam or paper. People don't pay much attention to them as they are usually above the eye-line. I can see them from my apt. window on the roof of a school across the street. I can't think of when I've seen one on the ground in our neighborhood, although the scraps come from somewhere. I see what I think is a family or small flock - on top of new high-rise construction - and have seen one feeding others who seem to be begging. They seem to avoid getting too close to people, unlike the starlings, and sparrows, and even the hawks/small raptors.
      • Elizabeth
        Participant
        Chirps: 9
        Wow! Some great (and gross) observations!
    • KATHRYN
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Unfortunately, I am not around a city area enough to spend time watching them. I do know I've seen them drinking water from puddles on the street and that concerns me just imagining what else they are ingesting besides water!
    • Angela
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      I rarely see crows in Salt Lake City, even though the range map indicates that they should live here.  I mostly see their cousins, the black-billed magpies.  I did see a pair of ravens nesting in the rafters of the football stadium.  (I swear they were ravens, even though ravens aren’t supposed to live in the city.)  I loved watching them soar around.  I am not sure where they were finding their food.
    • Edith
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      They consume the suet I put out for the woodpeckers in my yard.