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    • Bird Academy
      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?
      You must be enrolled in the course to reply to this topic.
    • Karrin
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      klukacs
      After this lesson, I am going to actively look in my neighborhood for a family of crows. (Also, I am delighted to have a new word in my vocabulary: allopreening!)
    • Elaine
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Elaine0421
      1.  There is a family of  about seven crows that lives behind my yard in the wooded area.  They often fly and forage for food together and rest on our trees.  I notice a lot of cawing between these crows - and the cawing takes on a rhythmic pulse which seems to be a form of communication, much like Morse code.  Next, other crows respond in the same rhythm and then will take an action, such as fly to a meeting place.  I have never seen any other birds communicate in such a fashion. 2.  Other birds do not communicate the way crows do with rhythmic sounds that mean something.  I do see other species of birds in flocks or with mates, however, but they don't seem to have as much of a personal interaction in the same way crows do. 3.  We can keep down the mosquito population by making sure we eliminate areas of standing water on our properties whenever possible.  Mosquitoes breed in standing water.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      britalks
      IMG_0210 A California Mockingbird dive bombing a crow who was too close to the nest. (Sacramento CA)
    • Aline
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Citizen Psittacine
      Greetings, everyone! This was a wonderful segment, thank you. Crow behavior:  I haven't had a chance lately to watch crows, but spring/summer 2019 I watched a family forage outside a window at my parents' place, which was kind of a hilly strip of land shaded by redwood and pepper trees (this is on the west coast).  I put out some food (sorry, I know now not great choices, but could have been worse) like almonds, granola, oats, maybe some strips of turkey coldcuts.  It was a family with relentlessly begging kiddies. One bird usually came and perched on a tree overlooking the area where I laid out the treats, and it scouted out the area; then after a while, the group would arrive.  Then one would sit up the hillside as sentry.  The adult birds really did look harried.  The almonds were not edible for them as whole almonds; I found some spewed back up.  But the birds did like almonds and started to hold them down with a foot and peck vigorously at them, eating the shards. Sometimes only one bird would arrive and pick up something and fly away with it.  I don't know if this bird was in the same family as the birds who came in a group. I remember WNV well.  I live on the east coast in a big city.  There used to be crow calls and I would see crows in the area, and then all of a sudden, there weren't.  I was very sad about this.  Only now (2020) am I starting to hear a few.  Whenever I see standing water, I get sad, because standing water supports mosquito population growth, and mosquitoes are how WNV gets around.  I will never qualify as a buddhist, because I do not refrain from killing mosquitoes at every opportunity.  The best way to curb this disease, and as a side benefit, diseases like Zika and anything else that goes around by mozzie, is to remove mozzie habitat.  Not easy in this part of the country.  
      • Karrin
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        klukacs
        I am jealous that you were able to see a crow family in action up close!
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      kbandeen
      1. This is the coolest thing I'll probably learn from this lecture--that crow families are tight. Some time ago, we had what must have been a family of 4 with us for several years. Ultimately they disappeared, and we didn't see nearly as many crows for a while. Just this year a family of six showed up: They have been with us all summer. May they remain with us!
    • Diane
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      djohnson6141
      I've watched a family of crows forage with lookouts warning those on the ground.  I've also noticed smaller birds diving at crows in the air when the crows are close to their nests.  Crows seem to be louder and in larger groups than other birds. Bat boxes might be a good way to decrease the mosquito problem.
    • Lynn
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Lemmolo
      I have been watching smaller birds in my backyard pretty closely, the crows less so.  However, what is clear is they are the organizing watch out force.    I've seen the nest in a tall fir on my property.    Will study. more. Good point in comments to keep the bird bath clean.  I wipe it with a paper towel before adding new water.
    • Vicki g
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      vickigoldsmith
      QUESTION - How is everyone feeding crows, without also attracting rats, or (more benign but unwelcome by me) wild turkeys??? I have only recently, very conservatively, resumed feeding birds in a couple of feeders right at the very back edge of my samll property, close to a woodsy patch. I LOVE the way the feeders attract birds, but after having had an issue rodent two years ago (and a known problem in our county) I am nervous about doing more.  Would love any advice! Meanwhile, there are times of lots of crows in our neighborhood and I look forward to their return for more observation. Right now, I more often just see one or two gingerly mixing with the shore birds at the beach. I am glad to know of their family associations to to view them with a new perspective.
    • Shea
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      runnerboy13
      2. Crows  don't really compare with other any other birds I've seen except parrots. Parrots have close family ties and are very intelligent
    • Erin
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      eradheshwar
      I have two crows that visit my house every morning, and I often see them allopreening. Does this mean they are most likely siblings? Or do mated crows do this as well?
    • Audrey
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      AQHall
      4. Bat boxes are very good. Bats eat mosquitoes. Thus, less mosquitoes, less bites... less bites, less infected prey... less infected prey, less sick crows... Less sick crows, happy crow lovers... more crows, better life!(;
      • Diana
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        q8K#wcM
        Yes! Bats (which are also under siege by diseases) are incredibly important for keeping insect pests—particularly mosquitos—in check.
    • Roberta
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Ritt96
      A family of crows were foraging in our rural upstate NY (southern tier) yard one afternoon when a red tail hawk swooped in and pinned one of them to the ground.  The others immediately when into a crazed cawing fit, flying at the hawk, circling and swooping down at it.  Soon several more crows flew in from the neighbors property up the hill.  They all work together to harass this hawk and it finally flew away with a few crows chasing it.  The attacked crow stood up after resting a few minutes.  It seemed to be uninjured except for a couple wing feathers that were bent and hung down dragging on the ground.  We could easily identify the lucky crow the rest of that year, we named him funny feather.
      • Karen
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        kbandeen
        We saw something similar happen at our home in Central Maryland: The hawk chased a crow into the window and then took the stunned bird off in its talons. The family took off after it, frantically harassing. We saw the whole family of four thereafter--success.
    • Kelly
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      kweymouth
      1. This is my 11th winter feeding a family of Crows, a mom and day I presume. They have had three offspring a year, except for last year. From their behavior and our weather I think it is safe to assume they tried 2 separate hatchings that they lost to extremely cold late in the season temperatures. I hope this spring they are successful again. their offspring typically leave in November. 2. My two trick a Seagull when taking the food I give to cache. This silly Seagull has been around for a year. They also protect their territory from other families and types of birds. 3. I vaccinate my horses against WNV annually and dump all items with standing water to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes. In Maine we typically see WNV deaths in mid-August. I pray every year my Crow family survives.
    • Barbara J
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      BarbaraJKimm
      Last Spring I started feeding two crows. I assumed they were a male and a female because sometimes one deferred to the other. Then, for a time, one was normally gone. There was extra food that they did not eat so they took it away, presumably to cache it. By summer I saw the two adults come to feed, at their regular time, with three juveniles. They showed them where the food was, left and now I rarely see them. However, the three young crows come everyday at the same time and sit and wait patiently and quietly for their food. They are very emotionally needy and want to be fed several times a day but I will only feed once. They never caw but one quietly clucks to get my attention. If the other two are not right there he will caw to tell them I have finally put the food out. Sometimes, but rarely, the parents will come back for food but they usually just let the young ones have it even though there is extra.
    • Corrine
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      crow4eva
      As I have always been fascinated by crows when I moved into my home about a year ago, I noticed many crows in the neighborhood. It was only a month after moving into our place that a bald eagle flew low overhead and my husband and I were outside. Of course all the nearby crows surrounded our yard and began to caw and drive away the eagle. During this episode a fledgling fell out of a tree in our yard! Honestly, even though I loved crows at this time I had no idea what fledglings looked like, and we thought the eagle injured this bird when they were trying to drive him away from their territory. We called the local Fish & Wildlife phone number and they told us to take him to a local organization that specializes in helping injured animals. We did so, only to discover it was a very healthy fledgling! While we were relieved, we were also sad that we had taken a healthy bird away from the nest site and hoped the parents would take the baby back. We released him in our backyard where the nest site was and watched him hop around. You could tell this little bird was on the verge of flying because they kept trying to do so and was a pretty decent size. The next day, I went into my backyard to make sure no predators had gotten to them and all of the family members cawed from the treetops as I went further into our yard. I realized the chances were their little fledgling was probably on the ground and why they were cawing at me more harshly than usual. So, I went back inside. After the incident above, I started to research crows and other birds more over time. Also, I began to feed the crows around my house and noticed them coming back every single day. It's been a year and this crow family is still living in my yard and surrounding yards. They regularly forage in my yard and neighbors, and it is amazing how they seem to stick together as a family unit. The crows will drive off new crows and seem very territorial. They definitely rely on look-outs while the other ones feed on the ground. This last spring they welcomed a new fledgling into their family and it was truly fascinating to see the shift in family dynamics and the new birds first week of flying. During fledgling season I noticed how quiet the crows become, they are so protective I noticed! Compared to crows I see the little birds travel in larger groups than crows. They feed differently and are much quieter. I am interested to find out more information how other birds do their daily tasks. Another thing I notice is if a crow needs help, the other local crows show up.
    • karhleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      KARMAC74
      I feed crows mornings in my back yard.  If I’m late they gather on the roof and call until I come out with peanuts and kibbles.  One crow sits on top of the bird feeder post and observes.  Since I started this coarse I found a nest in a tall river birch in our yard.  At first they would only come for food if I went inside but now they come if I’m sitting or walking around.  I talk to them when I put the food out so they become familiar with my voice.  Yesterday they drove off two hawks. If I put out stale bread they take it to the nearby pond and soften it up
    • Rebecca
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      raheagle
      I admit I never really observed crows as described in the lesson.  But they are interesting to watch even in brief encounters.  They are truly the neighborhood watch group!  I have seen individual birds perch in a tree and "send the word out" to whoever can listen; also badger a perceived threat, like a hawk or an owl.  I always got a kick out of the fact that a few crows would gather out front on Tuesdays...garbage day!  They were persistent and couldn't really be shooed away.  They'd cross to the other side of the street in a very unassuming way , only to come back to the garbage side when we'd go back inside!  What personalities!
    • Ben
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      bfmcleod
      #1  In the years I spent with a family of crows, I would regularly observe them hunting cooperatively for food.  One or two crows might be perched along a street, and if they spotted a meal (french fries, road-squirrel etc) one crow would call out to notify the family.  As the others gathered, the crows would take turns; one or two will stay in an elevated observer position, and let out warning noises if they saw oncoming traffic, pedestrians, prowling cats or the like.
    • KATHRYN
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      KatCrow
      1. When I watched my local crow family for several years, it became easier to learn to recognize individuals by their behaviour. I had one adult who loved a game where I tossed a peanut ( in the shell ) up on my sloped house roof and he/she would land on the roof and try to run down and catch it before it rolled off the edge and dropped. When I've see other adult birds bring young to my feeder, the youngsters usually just sit and maybe start begging when adults approach. Young crows, on the other hand, are always active - picking up sticks and other objects and exploring everything. As far as helping decrease spread of WNV and other diseases, feeders and bird baths should be kept extremely clean. If you find a sick or badly injured bird, either get a licensed rehabber to come get it or wearing gloves, get it into a carrier and transport it to rehabber. gloves should be discarded and carriers disinfected, towels even thrown out and hose off area where bird was found.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 30
      susangreta
      I'm fascinated by crows here in NYC, where I can't watch ravens (yet!). I spend part of the year in Iceland where I've been observing a pair of urban ravens since 2013.  I have followed them various years at different times of the year but always in the nesting season where they go through a lot of difficulties as their first nest is often destroyed by irritated janitors or landlords. Icelanders either love or hate ravens. But this pair has rebuilt and successfully raised young a second time - even when they were brooding and the eggs of the first nest were trashed. This year they rebuilt near the Parliament building, and their young are just fledging now, a good month after the other Icelandic ravens. This was  off topic; re: crows - I'm hungry for info on corvid behaviour - I notice that crows here in NYC and MA- I don't yet have a family to watch - are in a much larger groups than the raven pairs, who chase their young off approx. 2 months after fledging.
    • Catherine
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Cathy3417
      I fed crows for 4 years before I moved to another area.  It started with just a family. I noticed the one I called the watcher who would let everyone know when I put out peanuts .  The watcher also stood guard while they ate.  This family would take turns eating the peanuts.  I also noticed grooming of each other.  They would sit on the telephone wires and groom themselves or a pair would groom each other.  During the fall and winter when crows aren't as territorial and join together in larger social groups I would go out in the morning to as many as 40 crows waiting for food.  It always amazed me that they were so territorial when bringing up their families and yet so social at other  times.
    • Roseann
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      RoseannK
      I observe two separate groups of crows; one very local, so a family that comes to my balcony for food which I put out every other day.  Also, a larger group... probably several families or extended families that I see (and feed) once a week at a cemetery about a block from where I live. In both cases things are not very flexible in relation to territories during nesting season. In this case if someone even from across the street from the crow territory I'm in comes over to get some food, they are chased away, or in some cases pinned to the ground and given a good beak poking. No fooling around at this time of year. Once the babies are out and about, everything starts to relax again and territories become flexible. There's much more calling out (that there's food available) to neighbouring crows and a much larger group can show up and are tolerated. Very little in the way of disputes then. Seagulls show up as well for the food I have, but like crows going out of territory, are not tolerated by crows during nesting season. Of course not as many seagulls show up then anyway as they are all at their own nests not in the same area. Any single seagull that dares shows up during nesting season is harassed by crows. During any other time of year the crows tolerate the seagulls  and both groups seem to co-exist happily. I would say the crows defer a little to seagulls when it comes to a specific bit of food (because of size difference I assume). Sometimes a raven or two shows up as well (usually not during nesting season). Regardless, the crows are never happy to see them. If a raven lands I try to give him some food too but find they approach in a much more cautious manner, inching their way over, much more careful than any crow or seagull... probably because they are always outnumbered by these other two groups. The ravens sometimes pull the tails of the seagulls when there's a dispute over food, or just poke them with their beak if they think the seagulls are getting too brazen. In general it's mayhem when ravens show up. Both crows and seagulls immediately leave the ground. Crows normally fly into nearby trees and sit and wait and watch, very quietly, with the exception of a couple of crows that have chosen to harass the raven(s). The seagulls don't land in trees of course, so fly around a bit then land again, ravens or not.. then some conflict happens.
      • Susan
        Participant
        Chirps: 30
        susangreta
        I suspect that the ravens are overall more suspicious and careful than the crows and seagulls in general since they are not- as pairs or parents -big on group socializing. The ones I watch in Iceland are very wary of humans, and strange food (they won't approach peanuts!) but love eggs, and scraps from the slaughterhouse. It takes a while to get them feeling somewhat safe about retrieving food - or approaching - and in Iceland they are the only corvid - no crows. Seagulls have greatly encroached on the urban territory and caused some problems for scrap, bird egg/young and garbage foraging for ravens, as well as seagulls patrolling the ravens' nesting area and being a threat until the young are rather large.
    • Jeanne
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      jduprau
      One crow discovered my seed dish, and after several days more began to show up. So far, I haven't seen more than five at a time. They may all be one family. Today a young one was there, begging to be fed, its caw sounding more like a honk. I've also heard crows make a surprising noise like a sort of clink, very un-caw-like.
    • katherine
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      iluvdoves
      I boiled eggs and put out peanuts everyday for months for a crow family living in the forest behind my house. not sure if they were the same family I did this for last year (?). they would watch my bedroom window and when I opened the blinds in the morning they would start calling to each other and maybe to me too! there was always throughout everyday one that was 'the sentinel' and sometimes he would come to get food or sometimes he and what I think was the father - much larger. I named the dad Carlos. So the two of them would come morning & afternoon for food. After several weeks/months one day there were 3 and I assumed this was the mother. the following week four came - one was the new baby and begging for food. They stayed in my small fenced in yard for several minutes looking at me and cawing. that was the last I saw them. I liked to think they brought the new bird to see me before they headed somewhere else and it was as though they came to say goodbye! I was so excited to see the new bird but I miss them!
    • Cyrus
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      RhodeC
      1.  Family of three feeding on lawn, two of which were walking side by side for the several minutes on the grass much like a human couple would. 2.  The crows interact closely as a family unit whereas other birds as mating couples. 3.  Create and maintain diverse eco-landscapes on own's homestead.  Eliminate areas of standing water which is not a problem where I live on the mountain where rain percolates very quickly into the ground.
    • Desiree
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      Weeziehupy
      My favorite thing that the family in my yard does is when they bring the fledglings into my yard for food. I love seeing the young crows, and I love watching them loudly beg their parents for peanuts. I also like it when the fledglings hang around in my yard. Two years ago there were two that were especially curious and would watch me whenever I was in the yard. They were talkative and so funny. I loved having them around.  Sometimes the fledglings resist opening the peanuts by themselves and look like they get frustrated and annoyed; they keep up that loud aaaaa aaaaa aaaaa call until the parents or siblings open a shell for them and feed them. Honestly, the west Nile business terrifies me. There was such a scare about it a few years ago here (in New Orleans). It’s heartbreaking, and I’m sorry for anyone who was observing birds who died from it.
    • Patricia
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      PattyMac_58
      Wear bug spray - West Nile is no joke!
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      trillium
      To help slow the spread of West Nile Virus, eliminate mosquito breeding habitats; containers left outside neglected that collect water.  I don't own a pond but I think there are things that can be added to the water to discourage mosquito breeding, don't know how safe these things are.  Also creating a dragonfly habitat, dragonflies eat mosquitoes like I go through popcorn!
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      theMaryBirdWatcher
      Re #2 - Crows make so many different sounds!
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      James949
      I "think" (since I don't have the ability to tag) that I have had a pair who had two babies who are currently regular visitors. There was a new baby this year. I remember when the two babies were young and hung out in the back yard. You could see their cute young bird head shapes and watch their their games. One would carry sticks around in a way that made me think that she was "playing house." The chickadees and oak titmice that come bring their babies, looking sleek and plump while the parents look bedraggled, but they became a pair again soon after.
      • Sherry
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        sherrybay
        What a wonderful story. I admire the way you stopped to observe what was going on.
    • Dale
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      n735cm
      When I put out food, the new kids often come first. They will pick up the food and wait for the parents. When they show up the parent takes it.  The kid the goes into the feed me posture and call, then the parent feeds back to them.
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