• Margo
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I am responding to Topic 1.  I would ask the neighbor if she had actually seen the crow killing the nestlings.  If she hadn't, I would tell her that odds were that it wasn't a crow.  Crows are opportunistic, and will eat baby birds if they come upon them, but it is much more likely that the predator was a snake, squirrel or raccoon, among other predators that eat baby bird much more often than crows.
    • Jeannette
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Owls can benefit by using nests that crows make.
    • Jeannette
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Crows give warning calls that alert other crows and also alert other birds and small animals to danger.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      After reading the responses to the question of crows eating eggs, it occurs to me that one should simply ask, "Do you eat eggs?" and smile sweetly.
      • Elizabeth
        Participant
        Chirps: 9
        Good answer! They would probably say, "yes, but I would never eat songbird eggs". It's hard for people to see the hypocrisy because we put so much value on different species.
    • Katie
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      1. I would say that, actually, it's probably a chipmunk or squirrel killing the baby birds. 2. I live in the city so any walk I take I'm likely to see 5-10 crows on it! 3. I do live where there are both species. I have seen a raven only once that I know of, at a bird sanctuary. They are enormous! So much bigger than a crow. It is easier to tell the difference between them up close. 4. Since crows keep insect and rodent population down, humans really benefit from crows! Crows also benefit everyone by spreading seeds and berries, so any animal who relies on seeds and berries would benefit. BONUS: I love to see crows and when I get up close to them you can really see them as mini raptors.
    • charlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      1.  I would tell them that snakes, squirrels and chipmunks are the bigger predator. 2.ive seen crows in all my travels in North America.  We have a nest in a old old cedar tree that they built this spring using twigs and dead grasses from our yard.  It’s about 40’ up the tree. 3.  Yes we have both species where I live and what I’ve noticed is the crows live in the residential neighbourhoods and the ravens tend to stay at the higher elevations in the mountains.  The ravens are not nearly as social although they are curious when we go off roaring in the mountains.  We have about 70 crows in the neighbourhood murder. 4.  I’m not sure how the crows benefit other birds, but I know they live in harmony with my other backyard birds and are not as intimidating as I’d have thought after studinying them for awhile.
    • Cheryl
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      1) I would mention that snakes , chipmunks and squirrels actually have higher rates of predation than do crows. 2) I don’t see many crows near suburban area where I live. Most likely to see single crows spaced out along highway shoulder especially in rural ares. Never suspected crow nest, but will start to pay more attention. 3) No ravens likely in my area. Have seen crows.  Recently on vacation on Grand Manan island, off coast of New Brunswick and found groups of crows and also ravens readily found.
    • Pamela
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      1. I would tell my neighbor that our local squirrels and chipmunks are the more likely nest raiding culprits. 2. Last year there was a crow's nest in our neighbors tall pine tree. I enjoyed watching the crow couple's teenage crow assisting with the young ones. 3. Ebird reports crows and ravens in our area. I have not confirmed a sighting of a raven yet, it is one of my goals. We also have fish crows in our area - every dusk 50-60 birds or more fly from the lake/marsh area at our local county park, heading north. They occasionally land in a clump of trees, then is disagreement all take off again. They also work on flushing out all hawks in their path. 4. The crow is my bird watching companion in that he tips me off to any hawks in the area. Here in southeast PA we have nesting pairs of Cooper's hawks, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed hawks. The birds at our feeders take their cue from the crows, who act like the local sheriff in our neighborhood.
    • Meredith
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      4. Crows act as scavengers which is a very underappreciated job. I'm fortunate to drive through a 6 mile stretch of state land every day to go to work and I often see road kill.  The crows, and other species, take care of this quickly so I don't have to see it for too long or smell it as it decays.
    • Matt
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      3. in edmonton canada. i find crows take over the city during spring, summer, and fall. the ravens are typically found in wooded areas outside of the city. in the winter the crows leave (assuming south) and the ravens take over the town. often on cold snaps of -40 i will see ravens huddled around exhaust fans of the local 7/11.
      • Eveline
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        That's interesting Matt. I live in Winnipeg - which has a very similar climate to Edmonton - and the crows do not leave here in the winter. I have only ever seen a raven inside the city once (that I know of - quite possibly I wasn't able to distinguish before this course) - and it was yesterday (in the winter). I always thought we didn't see ravens in the city because they prefer woodsy areas, but maybe it is also because the crows don't leave. I will watch the exhaust fans at the local 7-11 over the course of this winter though...maybe the ravens are congregating there after all!
    • Edith
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      There are hundreds of crows in our town. They roost in trees downtown and poop on the sidewalks, hitting people once I  a while.  Lots has been done to try to get them to roost elsewhere, but to no avail.  The issue is especially acute in winter.
    • Cyrus
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      1.  I would tell the neighbor that the many snakes, squirrels, chipmunks, racoons and opossums in the area are the greatest threat to songbird nestlings. 2.  A murder of 6 to 8 crows permanently reside in my rural gated community that prohibits discharge of firearms.  I live above a bluff line that defines Cane Creek gorge of Fall Creek Falls State park.  A pasture with small lakes lie above my property.  On the end of my property with state park, a crow nest was built in the crotch of Black Oak some 70 feet above the ground.  Three crows with much chatter tended the nest when the fledglings took flight. 3.  I live on southern Cumberland Plateau (mid-eastern Tennessee) where the crows, vultures and raptors are common.  The raven is seen east of the Cumberland Plateau along the Appalachian range. 4.  A lookout crow sounds a warning to group of crows below that other birds and animals hear that a predator or human intruder has been spotted.
    • Jonquele
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      1. I would have to point out that one of my cats is a formidable huntress. (She is dying to catch a crow, although they are larger than she is.) But the 4 ft rat snake, the squirrels and raccoons, not to mention the raptors and owls and cowbirds all have better opportunities to go after nestlings. The experienced members of the passerine flock nest in other yards. The crows do try it on though. The mockingbirds kick up an enormous racket when they or the blue jays show up... their nest is high in a hackberry tree. 2. I have never spotted a nest. The resident flock has a lot of hillside to choose from. The crows visit when I dump out feeders on the driveway or toss out stale bread, chips or fruit. They always go after the peanuts first, stuffing in as many as they can manage. The sunflower seeds must be stepped on while they are hammered. Then they have to practically lie their heads down on the pavement to extract the seeds. Usually, they come alone or with 1-3 friends. 3. There are only crows where I live. The ravens are a couple hundred miles west. 4. The crows and bluejays make a terrific fuss when there are predators around, including me. They seem to run regular patrols around the territory. I hear them calling from one side of the peninsula to the other. I am told that they don't like to share space with grackles. There are certainly no grackles, (and not many blackbirds or starlings) on the ridge and peninsula where I live, but I have seen them foraging side by side at a nearby golf course, so that may just be hearsay. Not having grackles leaves more food for everyone else. Anything that eats grasshoppers helps the local herbivores.
    • Nadine
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I live in Santa Cruz California. We have tons of crows around here. I don't remember seeing many at all 35 years ago. During the late fall, in our neighborhood, which includes a small park with some tall redwood trees, crows congregate in great numbers. There are other areas in town where this occurs also. They line up on the power lines across the street from my house. They stream overhead in great numbers to the land in the tall trees just a couple of houses from ours. They make a lot of racket and seem to be having a great time as more and more crows fly in to join the party. I have about 4 regulars whom have overcome their fear and sit on the fence waiting for me to put peanuts in the flat, hanging feeder. If the squirrels are there first, they wait until I chase them off. One or two of them know how to grab 3 to 4 peanuts at a time - a method which involves pushing the first peanut to the back of the throat. It's funny because there are 2 squirrels who will do the "3 peanut grab" also. I love the crows and think them handsome and intelligent.
      • Sue
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        I appreciate your comment that you don't remember seeing crows 35 years ago.  I also live in California in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I moved to Alameda in 1988 and don't remember seeing crows then.  But a few years later I remember hearing a loud racket and walking out my front door to see what it was.  I looked down the street and there were at least 15 or 20 crows in a tree.  That was the first time I recall seeing them in the neighborhood.  Slowly the population has grown over the years.  Where did they come from?  How much has the overall crow population increased over the past three decades?
    • Peggy
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      I live in southern Maine, where both American Crow and Common Raven occur, though ravens are far less common and less visible where they do occur. I have both species nesting in the woods near my home. I find them very easy to distinguish both by voice and appearance in flight, though I never use size as a differentiator. Ravens tend to stay where there is much more forest cover and more mature trees. The ravens nesting near me have chosen a very tall oak deeper in the woods, but their nest is quite visible. I saw one of these adults approach the nest in mid-May carrying a baby robin. The nesting crows are right near  my house in the tops of red pines, and there seem to be several helpers assisting at the nest. When distinguishing between the two species, it is also helpful to remember that ravens are almost always alone or (during breeding season) in pairs, at least in my experience. In my many years of birding, I have never seen a group of ravens except at a carcass. As to the neighbor who complains about the crows eating baby birds, I had a neighbor say that exact thing to me. I reminded her that her free-ranging cat is FAR more likely to be killing birds than a crow.
      • Jean
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        I live in mid-New Hampshire, have both Ravens and Crows. We lived above Spokane, WA seeing Ravens often in groups up in the mountains since we lived at about 3500' If your neighbor really loves her cat, it would live 5-8 years longer if she kept it indoors. My first course, liking it very much. Dan
    • Jen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      1:  I’d let them know we should be more concerned about squirrels and chipmunks in our area. 2:  I have had a family of crows in my woods for several years now.  I do not know where their nest is...yet. 3.  In the part of New Hampshire that I live I generally only see crows. But when I hike in the White Mountains I see and hear ravens. 4:  All things are connected. In New England we have a tick problem.  Crows that feed on small rodents have the ability to break a link in the web of causation that causes disease in humans. The tick feeds on rodents, among other things, and then feeds on people, causing Lyme and other diseases. The crow is a welcome part of my neighborhood. It is also helpful for the same reason for the deer and moose populations as well as my dogs.
    • Sherry
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      1. I would mention that snakes and even squirrels are responsible for more predation. 2. We have many American Crows in our neighborhood, but I have never thought to look for a nest. 3. I live where both species are present.
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      #1. I would point out that snakes, and especially in my area, squirrels eat more birds. I also agree that cats are a problem, although I am not sure if they are killing baby birds or adults. #2. I have crows in my neighborhood and in my backyard. I have no knowledge of where they are nesting. There is a marsh nearby. I would appreciate any tips on how to keep them from eating the plants in my garden. I have several bird feeders and they like to eat the seeds that fall on the ground. That's okay, but now they've started eating the plants. #3. I believe I live near both species, but until I took this course, I couldn't distinguish them. Now I will pay more attention to behavior. #4. As the video said, probably owls that use the nests that crows leave behind.
    • Ron G.
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Re. #1 - I would probably mention that outdoor cats are what we really need to worry about.
      • June
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        I agree! Every cat that I own is an indoor only cat for that very reason. We have garter snakes, squirrels and chipmunks here in the northwest, thus hatchlings in our area are at high risk.
      • Clara
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        I also agree with you, Ron. Even if I like cats, I would love for people to understand that cats should be kept indoors.
      • Sue
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        I agree too!  Cats should be kept indoors for both the bird's safety and theirs.  I have a friend who rigged up a net along the top of the fence surrounding his back yard.  The net angled in and his cats weren't able to get a grip and pull themselves over the net.  That way they could go outside but not roam the neighborhood.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      A farmer in my area hates crows because he says they eat his corn seed when he plants.  Is this true? I love crows. I have been feeding them for 15 years. Their favorite?  Hotdogs!  Each morning I put out 3 or 4, not cooked, of course. They love them, as they do pizza, and a dead mouse or two or chipmunk that I catch in my traps. I like to experiment with different foods, they don't like chocolate chips, at least mine don't.  they love raw chicken. They actually sit next to a hawk in my walnut tree some winter mornings, waiting for me.  It's a beautiful sight!
    • Patricia
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Their are both here in CO but crows are in the neighborhood and ravens are more out of town.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      I am so pleased to see that the evil (non native) fox squirrels are the more likely predator and we do have resident squirrels.  When I yell at the squirrels, the crows know they are not the ones being shooed away. There are many crows in my suburban neighborhood in San Mateo, California. This year the crows nested in the Ash in our front yard. The pair who normally come for walnuts were the "look outs" and cawed with vigor whenever we went in or out. After the nestling was big enough and had moved on to different trees, they started coming back for walnuts. Family duties come first. There is a somewhat wild area where I do volunteer restoration. The ravens play "keep away" on the updrafts with sticks or small prey. It is great fun to watch them. As to the benefits of crows; I have seen them mobbing the poor Cooper's hawks. No creature for miles around could be unaware of the hawk's presence.
    • Dale
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Why do mockingbirds follow, and seem to be harassing the crows?  I also see the crows doing the same to hawks.
      • June
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        I have heard these theories: 1.Male crows are impressing females by indicating how protective they are, thus are excellent choices for mates. 2. Crows (males) are genetically programmed to go after any bird that is intruding their territory. I wonder if Dr. McGowan agrees with either of these theories?
      • Some species of birds will harass any other bird they feel is a threat to themselves, their nest, or their offspring. This harassment increases during the breeding season.
    • Desiree
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      I live in New Orleans, Louisiana and have been feeding and watching a family of crows and a pair of fish crows in my yard for years. Both kinds of crows seem to recognize me when I’m out walking-I don’t know how they can recognize me, but they follow behind or fly in front and caw whether I’m alone, with my dog, or with my children, and if I’m heading back for my house they wait in my Chinese elm or on the shed roof where I throw food for them. (They love unsalted peanuts in the shell, but sometimes I give them leftover roast chicken too.) One of the neighbors said they go after baby birds, but she feeds them too. I think attitudes about them have started to change, at least in the city. They are a daily source of joy for me. I especially love it when the baby crows are brought over by the adults toward the end of summer. I love how insistent they are about being fed. I am more than happy with the crows, but I do wish I lived some place where I could see ravens too.
      • June
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        I would love to see ravens here, too! I live in Oregon and the ravens here are found in more remote areas such as deep in the conifer forests or near water falls. The only time I have seen ravens was when I hiked at Silver Falls a few years ago. I recognized their unmistakable "croak."
    • KTrinder
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Hi, I'm in Scotland, Britain, so we have a different crow- carrion crow, Corvus corone. We have the same species of Raven, Corvus corax. I'm lucky enough to live in an area where we have both. (We have 8 species of crow here in Britain. I regularly see all of them other than the Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), which I've never yet seen.) Carrion crows come into our garden for food. It's taken them a number of years to trust us enough to come in, and they now actually will come and ask for food. They love dog biscuits and apples, which they will pick up and drop in a water dish before eating. I don't know what the neighbours think of this! But they all know that we feed birds and no one has complained... yet. I do try and explain, to anyone else who complains about corvids taking baby song birds, that they are not the main predator, but yes, some folk are very prejudiced against the corvids. Your 4th question, - "What birds and other animals might benefit from having crows around? Why? How?" Well, because the Crows come in and ask for food, the local magpies and jackdaws benefit as they are much less wary and will nip in and grab biscuits before the crows have plucked up the courage, so they benefit! :-) I think the other corvids see where the crows 'stash' food, so again they benefit from an additional food source. The crows are alert for predators such as cats or owls (or humans), so other birds and animals will benefit from hearing their alarms calls if they have spotted one. On the downside of that, the crows don't bother about the sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), so the song birds are not alerted to it's presence. At least then the sparrowhawk gets his breakfast or food for his young! :-) The crows don't like squirrels or pigeons, and will nip at them to get them to leave the garden, This leaves the seed feeder and spilt seed available for the song birds.
      • Mary
        Participant
        Chirps: 10
        I envy you your variety of crows and am entertained by the differences in the actions of your crows as opposed to my American crows. They will pretty much leave the squirrels alone even though I have seen the squirrels go out of their way, like crawling upside down on a wire, to aggravate the crow on the wire below. Our crows are aware of any and all predators and have a particular call for predators. They did learn that my cat who originally elicited the warning is not a danger and they no longer call when they see him.
      • Michele
        Participant
        Chirps: 5

        @Mary I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and I have a pair of crows that frequent my yard that I feed daily.  What I have noticed with them and the squirrels... if I set up a novel feeding station, the crows are wary and the squirrels or a Steller Jay will partake of the food while the crows watch.  However, once the crows became comfortable, they would scare/chase the squirrels away -- including swooping down on them from a tree.  At least here, it seemed plausible to me they were watching and using the squirrels to assess safety.  I caught some of this on video.

      • Mary
        Participant
        Chirps: 10

        @Michele Michele,  your crows are more proactive than mine. Perhaps they see that I will do the squirrel removal for them. Not that it has any lasting effect. I hate that squirrel! I also notice that the scrub jays would swoop in to take food as the crows spent time checking out the situation. Since I was originally putting out walnut bits for small birds, I put them in the leaves of a small oak to foil the squirrel. The crows would try to "hover" to pick the walnuts out of the Oak. When I tossed out nuts for ground feeders as I ate lunch, one crow would sidle up to the food as if not looking at it would trick me into thinking that wasn't where he was headed.  My crows are not as regular during mating season but return when the nestling(s) are more able to be on their own.

      • Michele
        Participant
        Chirps: 5

        @Mary So interesting Mary!  I just recently became intrigued by crows.  A few times last year I saw five or six sitting on a small retaining wall in my backyard.  So this April, I decided I would see if I could get more visits if I put some shelled and unsalted peanuts on that wall...and I have.  :-) I'm only ever visited by 2 at a time, although I hear and see many more in the neighborhood trees around here.  At dusk I often see many crows flying off overhead in the same direction -- I assume for the evening roost. And I wish I knew where that was. What I wonder about is territory...?  And why am I visited by only 2 at a time? Also not sure the 2 I see now are the same 2 I started with.  Those original two individuals I could visually distinguish (I think!) by relative size, their behavior, and one bird had a feather defect (notch missing) in the right wing. I used to call this pair Trigger (bigger bolder bird) and Bullet (smaller more cautious bird).  Named, because if I pulled Trigger enough times, Bullet would eventually follow.

      • Mary
        Participant
        Chirps: 10

        @Michele I will blame my inability to tell them apart on increasing cataracts, however there is a time during molting season around August here when I can tell them apart. It is also funny that they seem to visit in pairs. I do remember when mom and dad were here with the two young, the young ones had fluffy round heads. I think those two are my current visitors, but I have no way of verifying that. So frustrating.  Everything I report is anecdotal without tags or chips; I have to just enjoy them and share with fellow crow fans.

      • KTrinder
        Participant
        Chirps: 2

        @Mary Hi Mary, I do get a lot of pleasure watching their antics. They will grab at the squirrels tails with a little tug, when they think the squirrel hasn't noticed. They do this to each other too, so I do wonder if some of it is actually play. That's interesting that they have learnt to distinguish your cat as being not a threat. Clever crows! :-)

      • June
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        How interesting that you have such a variety of crows in Scotland! I have a family of crows (American crow - brachyrhynchos) here in Oregon that I feed each morning in my garden, thus I enjoy studying their habits each year. Similar to your crows, the American crow seems to know when a predator is nearby, as it will vocalize alarm calls and everyone flies off.  Also, whenever a hawk (we have many varieties here in the Pacific northwest) is near, our crows mob the hawk, continuously harrassing it, all the while vocalizing alarm calls and pecking at it whilst it flees. Such brave crows! That is always quite a sight! Another difference is that our crows seem to tolerate squirrels, despite the fact that they eat the same nuts and seeds that I put out every morning.