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    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Bird_Academy
      Share your “creative crow” story!  If you don’t have one, spend some time observing these clever birds, and tell us any evidence of intelligent behavior you notice.
      You must be enrolled in the course to reply to this topic.
    • Mark Deutschlander
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      MEDeutsch
      I am an ornithologist at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.  I study songbird migration, but as the "resident" ornithologist, questions about birds or issues with local birds are routinely brought to my attention.  One summer many years ago, a young crow had fallen into a rather deep window-well of one of our science buildings.  It was vocalizing and so some students noticed it stuck there.  They found me and showed me the bird.  The bird could clearly not get the lift it needed to fly out of this window well - it was too steep for the bird to clear the top edge.  So I climbed in to rescue the bird.  The whole time I did, the fledgling made calls (likely distress calls) and adults in the trees above made what seemed to me like aggressive calls of concern (at least that what I like to think they meant).   I got the bird out and released it (but as a bird bander, I banded it first), and during banding it continued to make calls and the whole process was observed by the adults.   After that event, for many years, when I parked on campus near the science buildings, I would get vocally harassed by one or more crows.  They clearly remembered me from the day I saved one of their kind, but I don't think they were being thankful.  I think I was being scolded for touching their family member.   Unfortunately a few years later I learned that the bird I saved was killed (shot) during the winter in downtown Geneva - likely by someone who did not enjoy the roosting birds there.  For a few years though I could easily and personally relate to Marzluff's facial recognition research first hand!
    • Dennis
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      JeffersonTW
      I have been observing a family of crows that have come to our compost for about 30 years. Most likely there have been several generations of the same family. For several years I would throw out peanuts for them every morning and before long they were arriving in our yard before I could get the peanuts out. They would perch in the trees at the edge of the yard and watch me through the windows and call until I came out with peanuts or compost. There was one particular individual that developed a very curious routine when I was out in the yard. It would fly into the trees above me and begin to arch its neck and dip its head and  beak down in front of its chest repeatedly. While dipping its head it would make clicking noises with its beak and rattle calls followed by a cooing vocalization that sounded just like a mourning dove. This ritual was clearly aimed at me since it deliberately flew to branches above me and  there were none of its companions nearby. I figured it must be sucking up to me to garner more peanuts, so I gave more peanuts. It often would see me in the house through the picture window and fly at the window only to veer off over the roof at the last moment. This crow clearly knew me and was attempting to manipulate me. And was quite succssful.
    • Elizabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Liz5775
      We have a family of 4-5 crows who visit our yard regularly.  We've been feeding the local blue jays peanuts for just about 2 years now.  The crows started to get in on the action last year.  I was so excited when I saw them approach the peanut spot and take some.  Now, the crows have their own spot and I've seen them stack up the peanuts so they can take more.  They also do this with old Thanksgiving leftover turkey!  Late this past summer I saw them in our garden.  We grew corn and it was terrible so I left it out there for them.  They kept congregating in one spot in the garden.  I later realized they were gathering around a seedling tray that I had left out there and that had collected a ton of water in it.  They were dunking the corn in the water and eating it!  We have a bird bath and 3 of them were sitting on it, drinking.  A small Cooper's hawk flew to the bath and seemed to consider threatening them.  The hawk raised its wings and one of the crows did the same and the hawk flew away.  This past summer we had a HUGE dirt pile (it was over 6 feet) that was a collection of sod, dirt, etc.  The crows LOVED playing in that pile, they were rolling around on it, rolling down it, pecking at it.  I just loved watching them.  I'm convinced they know me.  I see now that I'm probably right! :-)
    • Karrin
      Participant
      Chirps: 33
      klukacs
      The only "creative crow" story I know is the one that was circulating on Facebook a while back in which a crow (named Maple) acts like a dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc701wXxctw. I have also heard stories that crows collect shiny objects, but those seem to be the ones who are pets rather than ones living in the wild.
    • steven
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      srdang
      There is a semi-rural suburban road not far from our house, where I have seen twice in different years, crows dropping nuts onto the road. They would then swoop down to eat any nuts opened by cars rolling over them.
    • Sara
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      sarabethell
      Just today I saw a take-out container, a paper tub with a plastic lid. It was upside-down and the bottom had been 3/4 pecked out to get at the inside – the bird had clearly figured out that it was easier than going through the plastic!
    • Brenda
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Littlelibbey
      One day I left a plant pot tray out in the rain. A crow came along to drink the rainwater from the tray. I thought that was cool, so I didn’t remove the tray, so he would come back to drink. A few days later I found a pork sparerib bone stripped clean of the sinew left on the bone. I think the crow probably brought the bone to the tray, to soak the sinew in the water so it would be easier to get it off the bone. So clever.
      • Elizabeth
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        Liz5775
        They did that with some terrible corn I grew in our garden!  They dunked the corn kernels in a seedling tray that I had left out there and had collected about 2 inches of water.
    • Roslyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      rchernesky
      Recently 2 crows have come to my outside deck to eat the seeds I have placed there for birds. I assume they are the same two. Sometimes they arrive when most of the seeds are gone. One now comes to my glass door and starts banging on it, occasionally jumping up and down as s(he) bangs. It is a very loud bang as if a hammer...quite scary the first time it occurred. The second one seems to be watching, on guard. I have never opened that door to put seeds out but I have sat near the door or passed behind it. I now understand that their bills are not sharp so I may not worry any more that they will crack the door glass!
      • Karrin
        Participant
        Chirps: 33
        klukacs
        This course has made me really want to attract crows to my yard. Do you put out any specific kind of bird seed?
      • Elizabeth
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        Liz5775

        @Karrin Around here, they love leftover turkey, peanuts (in the shell or not, they don't care) and corn.  They also like our bird bath in the winter.  Good luck! I hope you see some soon!

    • Shea
      Participant
      Chirps: 24
      runnerboy13
      There is a barred owl that lives in the woods down the street from my house, me and my mom often watch the owl, and imitate its call so it calls back. One day while me and my mom where following the owl, and noticed a bunch of  Crows following it around and doing what seemed to be a coordinated attack. We followed the crows into the woods, and eventually found them mobbing the owl, which i didn't get a picture of, because it flew away. In the evenings proceeding that night, it seems the crows where perched in various spots of the woods, keeping a lookout for the owl.
    • S
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      RebelGirl
      This past summer, I had observed a crow dipping food from its beak in a puddle of water at my road. Not sure why it was doing so but I checked him/her out for about 3-4 mins as it would dip, put it down, and redipped. It took off after spotting another crow come near.
      • Chris
        Participant
        Chirps: 13
        cpennisi
        I finished the course recently and want to add I also saw crows dipping food into big puddles; I think these birds are so smart, they know that washing their food often makes it cleaner; although it does depend on how clean the water is; but the big puddle that it (they... as I saw him/her or them - hard to tell how many did this) - is from a sump pump discharge, which runs all the time, so it is pretty clean and constantly recharged
    • Corrine
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      crow4eva
      My story could be of coincidence, or that my local crow family really does recognize my face, or is super creative. I normally put out food for my crows in my front yard, but as it was nesting season and so many eagles and hawks were flying around I decided to put the food in my backyard. My backyard is full of very old coniferous trees, so it kind of has a canopy feel when you are underneath their cover. I thought it would be a better place to put the food, because I figure it would be really risky of an eagle to land on the ground that close to my home. I knew though the crow family isn't used to this being their food location. They normally land on telephone lines in front of my house to wait for food or look at the landscape. I saw a couple land and went outside. From my backyard you can see a part of the telephone wire. So, I had the plate of food in my hand and I make tongue clicking sounds to get their attention. They turned to look and I started walking towards my tree canopy area while making the sounds. None followed, but I decided to try again. Turns out I had to do it about 3 times, walking the same path using the same vocalizations. Sure enough though, one decided to follow me. He flew off the front yard telephone lines onto my roof so he could see what I was up to. I went inside to peer out my window and see what the crow did. Of course, he went over to examine what I had put out, then alerted his family.
    • Katrina
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      kbrow38
      Many years ago I bumped into my mom at the grocery store.  We agreed to meet back at her house for tea.  When I left the grocery store I saw a number of crows perched on the parking lot lights.  I arrived at my mom's house first and when I got out of my car I saw crows flying in and landing in the trees in her yard.  My mom pulled into the driveway moments later.  My mom loved to informally study crows and fed them daily. Another story that showed creativity..I had thrown out some pasta in the yard and I guess it had hardened.  A crow picked some up and put it into the bird bath.  The crow sat there and pecked at it periodically, probably to see if it had softened enough to eat.  They are amazing.
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      barbaranewberry
      We have a family of crows that I feed peanuts to and the also like the meal worms I feed to the robins.  They are feeding babies now!  They recognize me but are a bit Leary of my husband! If they aren’t out in the yard I whistle and they show up quickly.  I believe they have trained me, not the reverse.  When I am out feeding the birds, they seem to talk in a kind of gravely rumble.  Have five regulars and they are here year long.  When they show up and I am not out they carry on.  Neighbors don’t care for them much!
    • Faith
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      faith m sullivan
      What I have  Observed , I throw out the left over corn bread or muffins and there is one crow we call him the stacker.He takes one piece at a time and stacks one on top the other the most I’ve seen him carry off is 4 pieces stacked together, if he drops One piece because they were off balance he will start over he’s very meticulous takes him a few minutes to get his pieces just right . Flys off till  about 6 PM and he’s back .        
    • Kathie
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      KATHNOR
      We have been feeding scrub jays peanuts for years. The crows in our neighborhood (SF Bay Area) discovered this and began coming around when they saw  the jays come to get their peanuts. We never gave the crows peanuts and it was rare that they got any. The jays seemed to be able to hold their own against the crows. Recently several crows have discovered our bird bath. They spend a great deal of time in it. Also, I have found spent peanut shells in it, as maybe they are washing them first? I've also found long strands of grass in the bird bath.
      • Lee Ann van Leer
        Bird Academy
        LilacRoller
        Crows will use bird baths or other sources of water to moisten their food. They may be moistening it not only for themselves but also for food they are bringing to the nest either for the female that is sitting on the nest or for food brought to the babies. Food brought to the female on nest or the nestlings needs to have enough moisture so the recipient isn't getting dehydrated. They might also use a bird bath wet or dry as a 'food prep" spot. Besides moistening food there, they might use it as a place to perch and crack a nut and more.
      • Chris
        Participant
        Chirps: 13
        cpennisi

        @Lee Ann van Leer Aha, as I stated in an above reply to another person whose seen crows dip their food in water, I thought it was for cleaning it only, (which you said may be one reason), but moistening it makes even more sense for reasons you mentioned; they are so smart!

    • Michelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      CrowLvr
      We have two areas in our front yard where ant mounds have surfaced over the years. I've observed on several occasions when a crow stands on a mound and waits for the ants to crawl up on his feet or legs and eats them off of himself.  I guess it's easier to catch the ants when they are biting you than chasing them around.
      • Lee Ann van Leer
        Bird Academy
        LilacRoller
        Hello Michelle, What you are witnessing is called "anting".  Please read this article about it. Anting behavior. Anting- Some species of birds purposely stand on ant hills and rub the formic acid the ants are secreting and on themselves. It is thought to be an insecticide to protect them from feather mites or the secretions may have other benefits as well perhaps killing fungus, bacteria, etc.
      • Michelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        CrowLvr

        @Lee Ann van Leer Wow!!! Great information, thank you!

      • Eveline
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        WonTolla

        @Lee Ann van Leer Hi Lee Ann - the articles seems to suggest though that the insecticide theory was disproved??

    • Pamela
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Quakeress
      My husband likes to put peanuts on our platform feeder, but it is too small for crows to land on, instead they are snatched up by the jays and a few intrepid tufted titmice.  When we throw some peanuts on the ground, the crows can see the activity of the jays or squirrels who are usually the first to spot them.  One or two crows give their call and triumphantly fly in to the dogwood tree and take possession of the peanut territory. Then other crows (I presume younger ones) will fly to the ground to partake of the feast.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      theMaryBirdWatcher
      They always know about what time I’m going to throw breakfast scraps out for them!
      • Michelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        CrowLvr
        My little flock of crows also knows what time to expect their breakfast. Whenever I've been late, they come to the closest pine tree next to my home and either call for me or complain.
    • Desiree
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      Weeziehupy
      I also notice that they somehow know when I’m headed home (where I will always give them something to eat if I see them waiting in the Chinese elm) or if I’m headed away from home. Sometimes they follow behind me when I’m walking home and sometimes they go ahead of me and just wait in the tree. The younger ones seem to be more curious and like to follow me more and they get closer to me. I wonder if that’s because the older ones have figured me out and have satisfied their curiosity and know I’m going to feed them.
    • Desiree
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      Weeziehupy
      Sometimes when I throw peanuts up on the roof, the feral roosters in our neighborhood fly up and try to chase the crows away. The crows handle this by having one crow stand in front of the rooster and while the rooster chases him the other crows eat the peanuts. I think it’s brilliant.    
    • Cherie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      cheriepi
      Three observations: 1. I saw a dead crow in my driveway ditch and planned to bury it on my return home. (I know it was dead because I could smell the stench and wonder why it died.) When I returned home in 15 mins., it had disappeared. A groundhog lives under part of my deck and that smell hit me at my front door. I'm inferring the groundhog ate the dead crow because the smell disappeared within a day. 2. I saw five crows chasing a running rodent (rat size but couldn't identify it) in a dry catchment basin. From this course, I'm guessing that was a family group. One crow kept stabbing it while it kept running and all the crows were flying/hopping to keep up with it. It appeared a second crow in the group began stabbing it as well when the first crow stopped. I couldn't see the final outcome. 3. In a section of Florida US highway 29 between Palmdale and LaBelle,  I see three crows that appear to eat road kill.  In several crow photos in this course, I've noticed an extension of the upper bill. It reminds me of the Loggerhead Shrike tomial tooth. I recall in the overview of All About Birds, this statement that crow bills can't pierce road kill.  How about the bird that attacked the hard plastic deli container of tabouli? Is it possible some crows that have that sharp extension on the upper bill could do so?  Or could certainly stab a rodent to death?
      • Lee Ann van Leer
        Bird Academy
        LilacRoller
        Hello Cherie,

        The hook often seen at the tip of crow bills is too feeble to be used the way a shrike uses its bill. Crows peck with their lower mandible, not the entire bill. A persistent crow might make a hole in a dead squirrel, but it’s just a small hole and won’t help the crow get much meat.

         

        The fact you are remembering from our All About Birds page is this
        Despite its tendency to eat roadkill, the American Crow is not specialized to be a scavenger, and carrion is only a very small part of its diet. Though their bills are large, crows can’t break through the skin of even a gray squirrel. They must wait for something else to open a carcass or for the carcass to decompose and become tender enough to eat
    • DLadetto
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      DLadetto
      I’ve heard a lot of stories about crows doing this or that but I’m not sure I believe all of them. Sometimes I think it is the people being creative with their stories. Ha ha. I throw shelled peanuts for crows on my driveway sometimes. Sometimes when I leave my house in the morning 1 or 2 crows will sit on the wire over my driveway and caw. I always wonder if they are making sure I notice them so I’ll throw peanuts before I leave (which I do) or if they are alerting their family. “Hey, peanut lady is leaving her house, get over here and be ready when she leaves so that the grackles don’t get the peanuts first”. Ha ha. Surely, whatever they are communicating is probably simpler. I’m not sure if this strategy is creative or just smart. This question makes me realize that I need to spend more time observing a group of crows for longer periods of time and watch what they are doing and if I see something creative I’ll report back.
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