Viewing 22 reply threads
    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Bird_Academy
      Most birds do not live in groups or defend territories year-round. Do you think crows have an easier or harder time getting to be a breeder than other birds?  Why or why not?
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    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      kbandeen
      I have a tangential comment / question -- about territory.  We have what seems to me a lovely territorial situation for crows--ample food (including peanuts on ground) that we put out, many large trees, a stream right out back....  I commented on a previous module about a hawk attack on one in a family of four that had been regulars in our yard for several years. The family seemed to have success in rescuing their member--we saw all four crows in the yard thereafter, but not for very long. It then took years for us to see more than an occasional crow or two at our feeding station: Only this year have we had a family of six hanging out regularly. Could it be that our "territory" became branded as "dangerous" among the local crow community?
    • Paul
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      FairmontFarm
      I think there are evolutionary pluses to all breeding/territorial strategies, depending on what types of food and other resources in the environment different species exploit.  For a widespread "super-generalist" like a crow, I think their territorial behavior fits well.  "Easier" in comparison with other species is not really a question - different species have evolved different strategies that work for the resources they utilize.
    • Dorothy
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      1saltforkriver
      Think they have an easier time because they can always come back home
    • Vicki g
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      vickigoldsmith
      even with all options, seems tough to break in as a breeder!
    • ReikiDave
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      ReikiDave
      I'd say that crows have an easier time getting to be a breeder simply by the expanded options available in a family-unit-based environment.  Rather than having to go off on their own and compete on their own, crows are supported in their efforts by their families.  They also have the option of waiting while assisting their birth family.  All around this is an easier system in with more options which to become a breeder.  (IMO and based on the information learned in this course).
    • Shea
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      runnerboy13
      Harder, because  crows have a higher cognitive ability than most birds, making their decisions in conflict with feelings, crows also have more options than most birds, making decisions hard.
    • Fred
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      glockf
      I suspect crows may be more successful (i.e., easier time) due to the many options cooperative breeding among the group provides.
    • Sally
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Skentch
      Hard for me to compare crows to other birds when Iknow  so little about other birds. But it appears that the crows have a good amount of options for breeding which is to their advantage.
    • Jeffrey
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      franjeffharper
      Do crows wash their food?  We often find bird parts in our bird bath.  We suspect crows are killing other birds and washing the food in the birdbath.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 30
      susangreta
      Hmmm, same but different? Their longevity and later breeding age means that they don't have to stake out a territory immediately, so can join with their parents to help out, or go to another territory take over someone else's role if one of the pair dies, or "bud" - establish on the fringe of the parental territory. And then when they finally get set up as a breeder, and since they live a long time, this lasts for a while. So I think, maybe easier than other birds that have more stress to establish territory, win a mate, nest at last once during a season, and start all over again the next year.
    • James
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      Jim Fuehrmeyer
      From what Kevin related in the video, it would appear that Crows have a relatively easier time becoming breeders because the family structure gives them more options.  However, there could be other factors that enter into this for other species of birds. For example, smaller birds may require smaller breeding territories.  If they also have lower survival rates, then those who survive may have an easier time breeding. Some species are more "promiscuous" breeders and they may have more opportunities to breed with other birds' mates. In the end, I suppose it depends on what we mean by easier/harder.
    • Angela
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Angela.Snow
      Crows are very successful in their habitats, but a lot of other birds like chickadees or juncos are also very successful in their habitats.  So, on a population level, I don't think the crows' strategy is better or worse; it's just different.
    • Amanda
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      adguzman
      "Easier" and "harder" are much too subjective labels. From what I've learned in this lesson, I wouldn't say it was easier or harder so much as it is a longer, more involved process for crows with a different, though not necessarily unequal, set of challenges to reaching that status of breeder. With other birds that don't live in groups, there is an immediacy in their eligibility to breed. They are thrust, sink-or-swim style, into the adult world of breeding to discover by trial and error how to do this successfully. They lack the skill refinement and familial support that crows have thanks to their cooperative nature. The crows have more options, but it takes longer for them to be eligible for those options. Think of it like human children upon graduating high school: which has it harder, the student who immediately moves out and starts working, becoming essentially "adult"; or is it the student who pursues higher education, delaying complete autonomy in favor of skill refinement? I think it is all a matter of perspective. I, subjectively, would feel it easier to be a crow because I like being prepared, having a safety net, and I love learning. But to others, the idea of more "education" that the crows receive by living in families might seem harder or stifling.
      • Susan
        Participant
        Chirps: 30
        susangreta
        That's a good analogy! Comparing with young adults who either leave home and strike out on their own, or stick around the "nest" to be nurtured along - ideally while they pursue higher eduation for a better or at least more secure future.
    • Faith
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      faith m sullivan
      It might be harder  for them to  acquire a breeding space due to pecking order etc ,  but  if they stay within the flock you’ve heard of safety in numbers.  I believe there chances for survival long term is greater then the birds that are on their own with out a flock / support system  . I think they see the bigger picture
    • Amy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      ajojac
      Your question got me thinking about how I look at animal populations. Do I see individuals, families, flocks, herds? If your question refers to easier/harder for an individual to be a breeder, I think easier, because the family supports the failure by providing a safe fall back. Anyone with twenty-something children reading this? But I am thinking that the better question is whether or not this is a successful strategy. Given stable crow populations statistics, I'd have to say it is a successful strategy. Easier/harder for an individual crow really doesn't play into that outcome, it is a group assessment. On the other hand, the group is made up of individuals all seeking the best outcome for themselves. Oh, those selfish genes.
    • Cyrus
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      RhodeC
      I would think a harder time in being a breeder in that an adult male male needs to leave the family community of one breeding couple and find an unattached female in another group thus avoiding inbreeding.
    • Jonquele
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      jonquele
      It seems to work for them or they would have abandoned it. I think they probably run into the same issue that some human and primate societies run into of having to wait for a territory.... the old "you can't get married until you have a farm"---it's fine as long as space opens up within a year or two of maturity, but longer than that and "cheating" is liable to start. On the other hand, I have a pair of cardinals determined to breed in a fully populated landscape... they have chosen a terrible nest site in spite of my discouraging them by repeatedly removing their nest and sitting under the shrub. I'm not giving great odds on anyone surviving.
      • Lee Ann van Leer
        Bird Academy
        LilacRoller
        Hello Jonquele, Thanks so much for your observations, thoughts, and your concerns about the placement of cardinal nests. I wasn't sure what you meant by "fully populated landscape". Did you mean populated by people, cats, other birds, or other cardinals?  It sounds like you were trying to help the cardinals out by moving their nests. I have good news on several fronts for you in that you need not worry about where the cardinals place their nests and can leave them where they build them. First good news, birds nesting adjacent to a lot of human activity is not necessarily a bad thing and might even mean  less chance of nest predation if the predators are leery of areas with lots of humans. Here is an informative article about what to do if the situation arises again.  There's A Bird Nesting Near My House. What Should I Do? A study on cardinal nesting you might be fascinated to read Cardinal Nest Sites and Nest Predation. The study concluded that proximity to human activity had no effect on the success or failure of of nests. Interestingly, they also found no correlation between nest concealment or visibility and success or failure of a nest, nor did the accessibility of the nest affect the success of a nest. Therefore, what we might perceive as a bad nesting location may actually be a good nesting location for the bird. That is good for all of us to know, so we know that the best and most legal thing to do for native bird species is to leave their nests or partial nests right where they are. I hope this alleviates anyone's concerns about where birds are locating their nests.
      • Angela
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        Angela.Snow

        @Lee Ann van Leer Thank you for sharing the Cardinal Nest Sites and Nest Predation article.  It was very interesting.  There are some airborne nest predators, some terrestrial predators, some visual predators, and although they didn’t measure it directly, presumably predators that hunt primarily by scent or sound.  So, there is no one “good” location to put a cardinal nest.

      • Cam
        Participant
        Chirps: 4
        CamMannino

        @Lee Ann van Leer Thanks for speaking to the "nest in a crazy place" concern - and to Jonquelle for bringing it up.  I've been concerned about robins in this regard from time to time.  But I've learned to just let them sort it out.  Your explanation was really helpful.

      • Susan
        Participant
        Chirps: 30
        susangreta
        Wow, I know this has nothing to do with crows, but why is the cardinals' nest site so awful? What happens when you put their nest under a shrub?
    • Jen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      tweettweet
      I think the strength in numbers works to their benefit here. It’s just a matter of being patient and in the meantime they may learn parenting techniques from helping out that they will also benefit from in the future.
    • Peggy
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      MPage815
      It seems to me that crows have an easier time because they have multiple breeding strategies and are able to stay in a relatively safe situation to build experience and strength, and to scope out the possibilities for mates as they flock and roost with neighbors. I suspect that their sheer numbers and their highly evolved intelligence are good evidence that their breeding strategy is a favorable adaptation. There is a theme throughout this course that is becoming clearer to me: crows have choices in life. They are not preprogrammed automatons ruled by instinct alone. This makes them especially fascinating to learn about!
    • Student Birder
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      elydick
      I think easier, because of longevity due to living with family.  They may have to wait awhile, but they have time as they are long-lived.  I've heard that the mortality of many songbird species in the first year is very high (strike 1); then they still have to find a territory and a mate (survivors are tougher and more experienced) and then they have to raise their chicks without help.  So the crow strategy is a good one.
      • Susan
        Participant
        Chirps: 30
        susangreta
        Yes, in the "Think like a bird" course I was saddened to hear about the hardships of migratory birds and the life or death decisions they have to make regarding territory and breeding, being dependent on weather and specific food sources. Crows don't have to worry about that so much.
    • DLadetto
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      DLadetto
      It seems like they might have a harder time as in individual if they are waiting for a territory to open up and have to survive long enough to be old enough to win or earn a territory. In an area where West Nile has wiped them maybe more territories would be available in that scenario. However even if a spot opens up, you then have to find a breeding age mate. If other types of birds can become breeders at a younger age maybe it is ‘easier for them’. Although crows are smarter. So many variables I’m not really sure.
    • Dorie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Studio370
      I would think crows would have an easier time breeding because they are more social than most birds and live in gregarious groups. Since they mate for life, it would seem likely that they would choose carefully and know one another well.
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