• Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      1. Observe a family of crows for a period of time.  What are they doing? What social interactions do you notice?
      2. How does crow behavior compare with other birds you’ve observed?
      3. Crows can catch West Nile Virus from each other, from eating infected prey, and especially from mosquito bites.  People can only contract WNV from mosquitoes, NOT from crows. What steps can we each take to decrease the spread of this virus in crows and people?
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    • I live in a townhouse community and crows have learn that birds build their nest under decks. They fly low or walk along fences to check for new nest or young birds. It is fascinating to see them every year patrolling the area.
    • Shiny
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      3.Maybe we can avoid putting still water and be careful when around mosquitoes, if we see a crow who is sick, we can report to the nearest wildlife rehabilitation center, so other crows won't get sick while trying to help the sick individual.
    • My friend, who admittedly was one of the crow-haters, nevertheless recognized how smart and sociable they were. She told me a story that she once observed a crow that had died, and a number of other crows, presumably family, congregated around it in a circle as they just stared at the dead crow in silence. She figured it was a crow funeral. Has anyone heard of such a thing with birds?
    • John
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      I encounter groups of crows that I assume are a family primarily in two areas of the housing development where I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I think there are two families in 750 acres. I think of them as the north and the south families. Occasionally they meet near the middle and have a squawking and cawing good time (I may be anthropomorphizing about that).  Mostly I observe a smaller group of four or five near where I live flying through the trees or foraging on the ground. I can think of no other birds that I have observed that compare to the crows. The closest I can think of in this area would be the Canada geese. There is a breeding pair here every spring/summer. The main difference from crows is the breeding pair will not allow any other goose to come close to the juveniles to share in parenting. But then the juveniles are quickly up and about eating grass like the adults.
    • Ciska
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      A family of crows visits our backyard frequently. I've noticed the crows soaking food into the bird bath (not only food they've found in the nearby park like pieces of pizza, tortillas, bread, chicken wings, but also young birds) to make it easier to tear apart and eat. I have never seen another bird doing that. DSC_4939 (2) Like many other birds they take sunbaths. It is an amazing sight when crows are sunbathing together (see picture).
    • Sandy
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      I've noticed twice that 2 adult crows will be watching another crow- I'm guessing their baby fledge. one had its wing caught in a blackberry thorned branch. I gently removed the small crow, and it went on its merry way but 2 crows in the trees were yelling at me while I was doing it. Another time in another location I was taking my class out to the playground and it looked like a wounded crow wa in there. I knew the kids would mess with it. So I put a towel over its head and moved it practice flying elsewhere. Again, two birds in the trees were yelling at me.
    • crow preening 1 This is not quite a family with more than just a pair.  However, they stayed together patiently with one of the birds preening itself (no allopreening that I had a chance to observe).
    • Kathie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      clear away all standing water outside where mosquitoes could breed
    • Gwen
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      2: As someone who lives in Michigan, I often see small groups of crows together, whether it be on a walk in the park or in a parking lot. I find it extremely interesting that they have this family dynamic where they stay with their parents and siblings year after year, so much so that they often take care of each other and help protect siblings' nests. I've never seen anything truly like that in any other bird I've observed.
    • Jen
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      In my yard in the Maryland suburbs, there is a family of four crows that regularly hangs out. Until I did this lesson, I did not realize that this was actually a family, rather than unrelated members of a larger flock. I did not realize that the young stay with their parents for years, and cooperate in rearing their siblings. I also only recently learned (from All About Birds) that we have 2 species of crow here - American and Fish crow- and that the best way to tell them apart is by their calls. I think I can tell them apart, but I used the Merlin Sound ID app to verify that this family is indeed American. I have heard Fish crows in the neighborhood, as well. I was saddened when the local flocks were decimated by WNV a number of years ago. There used to be very large flocks of many hundreds, that were a joy to watch as they settled down to roost at twilight. (Although I would perhaps have been less delighted if they roosted in my yard) Nowadays I generally don't see flocks of more than a few dozen or a few score.
    • meredith
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Make sure there is no standing water for mosquitoes to breed in.
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      1) A family of crows has lived in our neighborhood for years. One thing I have noticed is their defense of the nest from intruders. 2)I find it amazing that crows live in obvious family groups year after year. 3) In order to decrease the spread of WNV we need to decrease the population of mosquitos by eliminating standing water where possible.
    • Janelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I live in a rural area in Virginia. We had vultures that came in every night to roost in our front woods. They're gone now for the summer. Now, a family of crows has come to live in the trees, and I am so grateful because I want to observe them first-hand while I learn  more about them. My only trouble is, that I can't really tell them apart.
    • Alicia
      Participant
      Chirps: 24
      1. I live in Chicago. A few springs ago, there was a huge group of crows (at least 40 birds) that would gather in the large deciduous trees right outside my home. It was a fairly intimidating thing to witness and thoughts of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, came to mind. They would gather late in the afternoon and spend several hours there before moving on, only to return the next day. Now I know there was nothing sinister about this group! 2. Crows are much more intelligent than other birds I have observed around the city. I am certain they recognize me, unlike the morning doves who fly away in fear every morning when I open the door. 3. We can decrease the spread of WNV by decreasing the opportunites for mosquitoes to breed. We can remove anything that collects standing water.
    • Activity #1 - I've been observing the family of American Crows in my area for several months. However, an added challenge for me is to be especially mindful of gazing at them for too long. My understanding is they find this threatening and I know they're watching me watching them! I caught their attention when they noticed me tossing peanuts to the California Scrub-Jays almost a year ago. They began approaching and watching me intently since summer of last year. Sometimes only the breeding male is visible, sometimes 2 of them, and other times 3 (which might include the female and helper). Once or twice, it's been 4-5. At this time, it's a treat to hear the breeding female's begging calls as we head into their breeding season. Activity #2 - Compared to the California Scrub Jays, the American Crows are understandably more cautious and slow to trust. The scrub jays (the male especially) boldly nab peanuts regardless of how I appear or whatever I'm doing that's out of sync with my normal outdoor activities. However, the crows have been alarmed by phenomena such as the sound of me dropping a hose nozzle on concrete and, another time, by my lower face being covered by a mask on a smoky day. Activity #3 -  Be mindful of, and eliminate, standing water in and around the yard, as this presents good breeding opportunities for mosquitoes. I make sure to vigorously disturb water in our garden ponds and change water in birds baths regularly.
    • Rachel
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Limit places where mosquitoes want to live.
    • Rikki Rachel
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I have been following the neighborhood crows here for the couple of years I've lived here, and I love when the juveniles start coming out and doing their baby-squawks, and seeing their parents and older siblings feed them! I started tossing them some dehydrated salmon dog treats, too, so they recognize me and come swooping down for a snack if they spot me. I love knowing how similar to us they are in terms of social and familial structures for survival. The allo-preening is so cute, I am going to keep my eye out for that now!
    • Jane
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I saw a family of 4 crows taking a stroll around the yard. The adults looked to be enjoying each other’s company, while the youngsters followed behind. One of the young ones stepped on the other one’s foot, and the second youngster fell down.  Then he or she got up, trotted after the group, and stepped on the first youngster’s foot, and that one fell down.  It made me laugh.
    • Beth
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      We have breeding crows in our neighborhood here in Montana. Then in the winter, we have a large influx of wintering crows that have migrated down from Canada.  They have a huge presence in town here, with groups hanging around in various places, and communal roosts. It seems that your Ithaca studies have been on a resident population of crows.  I am curious about these crows that have migrated here for the winter - are they staying in family groups?  Has anyone researched these migratory populations?  I wonder about what kind of different strategies they have.
    • Pamela
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I live in central New York. I have been watching out my bedroom window a group of crows. How excited I became when I learned that they are indeed a family. They make me laugh with every observation.
    • Elaine
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I live in the Central Valley of California. Ravens are much more common in this area. I took this class to learn to distinguish Ravens from Crows.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      We have moved to a new house / town.  The property has a huge front yard.  We do not have dogs so a family of crows (5) have taken up residence nearby and come to the front yard every day.  I love seeing them, and miss their calls.  I will take notes and watch them more closely in the coming year.
    • Caterina
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I live in EU so I can only speak for the crows I know which are the hooded crows (Corvus cornix). I want to report two observations of crows caring for a sick member.
      •  I saw an adult hooded crow with a clearly broken wing in a private garden. I came back every day bringing him/her food, and I witnessed more than once another adult crow (at least one, I couldn't say if they were different individuals) that brought him/her food.
      • As a wildlife rehabber, I hosted in my garden an adult hooded crow that was raised in captivity and was suffering from severe rickets, thus couldn't fly. A healthy hooded crow, another adult, started to visit my garden on a daily basis, taking advantage of the rich food variety I gave to the ill crow. Week after week they grew close, and they started preening each other and exchanging food. The healthy crow would sleep with the ill one (close to the ground). After a year or so, the ill crow died. It was completely out of the blue and the vet said there were probably congenital cardiac malformations involved. The healthy crow stayed around for a couple of weeks, cawing as for calling her partner, and slept were they used to roost together for many nights. Then, she decided to move on and now I rarely see her around, even though I kept giving her the same food.
    • Erin
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      I've had a pair coming to the yard for about two years now, once in a while there are three of them up to a high of nine for a few weeks last fall! I wish so much that I knew who they were to each other, though I imagine they are a family group. There has been a lot of very interesting behaviour from them, one usually stands sentry while the other ones eat, and they almost always leave something for the sentry crow to take at the end, which is cool. Last spring they vanished for April and May, I assume for nesting purposes. They returned in June with three babies, which were as big as the adults, but obviously babies from their behaviour. The babies were MUCH braver than my pair, venturing much further into the yard, spending much more time on the ground and hopping around and on everything. I guess since no harm came to them, they are all much braver now and spent a lot more time here. They even will wait in the tree if I'm going out to the feeders instead of flying away. This spring I still see at least one every day, and have seen three here and there, so I'm not sure what that means for nesting. The one in particular is much more comfortable around me. This spring too I have noticed more quarrelling among them, I assume this 'third' crow is the issue. It never seems serious, thankfully, but loud and with some chasing. I'm very interested in see if some babies will make an appearance. The crows are much louder than the other birds, and much more likely to stick around when I'm outside, they also are not at all bothered by our (senior) dog, unlike the other birds, and will still come to eat if he's out in the yard. I absolutely think they know that he is no threat to them. I have a bird bath that I deep clean weekly and change the water in daily in the summer to prevent mosquitoes. I also have started planting flowers that are supposed to deter mosquitoes, I don't know how true that is, but it can't hurt - marigolds, citronella mostly.