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Whether you’re here with specific questions or a general interest, you’re in the right place to learn the science behind one of the globe’s most charismatic and influential groups of birds. I created this blog in 2012 when I was just starting as a graduate student at the University of Washington as a platform to share my own research on crow “funerals” and to answer questions I was regularly fielding from the public. Since that time, my title and area of research has changed, but my passion for corvids and commitment to science communication remains immutable. I hope that by educating the public about these magnificent birds people will not only view them more compassionately, but will appreciate what a valuable connection to the natural world they provide.

No matter your feelings for them, nearly everyone has a story about crows, ravens, jays or magpies—even those people who otherwise feel quite separated from nature.  This connection is not recent one; you need look no further than the religious texts and creations stories of cultures around the world to appreciate our historical fascination with these animals. The fact that some of them are conspicuous and thrive in human dominated environments means that corvids are uniquely accessible animals that offer a wealth of opportunities to connect people of all interests and backgrounds to the natural world. With over half the world’s population living in cities, this kind of accessible connection is more important than ever. So go watch them play, problem solve, bond with their families, cause mischief, inspire mythology, and watch you right back. The questions and stories these observations provide will always be welcome here, and I do my best to answer each message within a few days. So go learn, and let me know what information you’re still hungry for. Welcome to the Corvid Research blog!

646 responses to “Home

  1. Lynn

    Dr. Swift, I have heard that there is a spot in Renton that crows roost in during the fall and winter. Can you tell me where that is – would like to go see that.
    Thanks!, Lynn

    • Hi Lynn, it moves around but tends to congregate near the Ikea.

    • Erica

      If you go down to Boulevard Park at Southcenter near the intersection of West Valley Hwy and Strander Blvd you will see thousands – right now (Jan 2021) this is where they all are congregating as the last stop before they head in to the roost which has moved a couple times since early summer when it was closer to IKEA. It’s pretty incredible to see as they stream in from all directions. The flock coming in from the North and NorthEast is the biggest and streams in for 10-15 mins.

  2. Hi!
    I just posted a photo in the group and you were so kind to answer my question!
    You also mentioned this group for learning more about corvids. I would love to join!0

  3. sarbjeet kaur

    It was very informative program on webinar, I would like to share some of my experience and photos about their behaviour
    .

    • Hi Sarbjeet! You are welcome to share stories here, but unfortunately you cannot post photos. If you’re on Facebook though, you can search for the Corvid Research Facebook page. There you can share all kinds of stuff!

  4. Thom Gerst

    I really enjoyed your corvid talk last night. In an age of wide-spread disinformation it was a pleasure to hear nuanced, fact-based responses in sometimes wonderfully complex sentences.
    Have a great time in the Mariana Islands. I’ve been to Palau diving twice and find that part of the world thrilling. This seems like a perfect moment for such an adventure.

  5. Debbie Weissman

    Hi-I saw your talk yesterday for Minnesota Audubon. It was fun and fascinating. I live in Albuquerque and I notice that every fall/winter many crows-probably hundreds but not in large groups-fly south in the morning and then fly back north in late afternoon . They’re quite high in the sky. I’m wondering if they go far to look for food or what’s going on. Thanks

  6. Doug Nafziger

    Hi. A couple of us have noticed a few “Caramel Crows” in a specific neighborhood. Since these are supposed to be somewhat rare – and that there are at least two individual birds -wanted to share this here. Would post photos if I can figure out how to do so.

  7. Jeff Smith

    Hi, Dr. Swift – I enjoyed the Crow talk you gave earlier this week for Portland Audubon. Made me recall this bit of crow humor from 20 years ago by Ian Frazier, “Count on Crows”. I think you’d enjoy it!
    https://www.utne.com/community/countoncrows

  8. Doug Graves

    Hi. I’m tracking down a study about corvid intelligence I remember reading about around a decade ago. The experimenters had a setup with two buttons that would sometimes dispense treats when pressed, but one was more likely to give a treat than the other. The crows (I think it was crows) eventually learned to just always press the button with the better chance. I can’t find the study or the article I read about it, so I’m hoping that I’m not just misremembering and this description rings a bell with an actual corvid researcher. Can you point me to the paper? Thank you!

  9. Cynthia Wilson

    As a child, my dad brought let me bring home a crow that had been hit by a small airplane. He built a cage for it outside. After 5 months of talking to the crow and saying my name the crow could say Cindy. I was devastated that a neighborhood bully poked my crow to death with a stick

  10. m

    Hello!

    What do crows and ravens look like under a blacklight?

    Thanks!

  11. Barbara Blount-Powell

    I have a group/family of crows that make my small farm (horses, free range chickens) and environs their home. I have learned to listen to many of their warnings as they tell me when predators (coopers hawks, foxes) are on the prowl. This year one of the crows started making a most unusual call, almost like a peacock, late morning, or mid afternoon. It was more mournful than a warning….he/she did it for several months, then recently stopped. I have recorded it, but no one seems to recognize it. Any ideas? I can email a clip.

  12. Al M.

    Chasing down imaginary “culture criminals” and alienating your readers. Good job!

  13. I have a large flock (at any daytime moment, there are 10-50 of them about) of what appear to be unmated teen ravens who live on my property. They love that the ridge I live on has lovely thermals to ride most days. They have become pesky, stealing food from livestock, and tearing up tarps and patio furniture. Any suggestions on how I can keep them entertained and thus less destructive? I have pictures of some of their antics and destruction but don’t see a way to post them here. I’m really not trying to get rid of them… they protect my chickens and turkeys from raptors.

    • Hi Sarah! This is such a tricky line to walk. There’s probably not much you can do re: stealing food from livestock other than probably impractical changes to how you feed them. As far as destroying the furniture, ravens are very neophobic (scared of new things) so experiment with adding tinsel, googly eyes, or depictions of optical illusions to furniture and see if that helps. Good luck!

  14. Britt James Fellner

    I have always been impressed by the crows in Renton, Washington. I have been observing, feeding, photographing and sometimes interacting with them. I sincerely hope I get the chance with a raven. There are some lucky individuals whom put some cool videos of ravens in slo mo… very cool. Some flyers twirling upside-down… really cool. I am always impressed by the intense reasoning ability, humor and observational abilities of corvids…always will.

  15. Marie Hutchinson

    I love birds, but Corvids are my favorites. I would love to know more about them.

  16. Paul McCarter

    Squirrels vs crows. I’ve observed some of our squirrels this season digging up their treats and each squirrel had two crows following it. When the rodent would unearth its food the crows would attack it and chase it off stealing it. I observed 3 sets doing this yesterday. Sadly when I tried to get video it was through a screen and was too far to get good detail.

    Is this known crow behavior? I understand they are smart but this looked orchestrated. All 3 groups were within about 30 meters.

  17. kei paer

    Hello! I’ve always had a love for crows, they’re everywhere where I live too. This is going to be a specific question as it happened earlier today and I’ve been unable to find any answers with what I’ve searched. I was walking down the sidewalk, passed a crow digging beside me, looked at it, and it, made direct eye contact, yelled at me, and flew off to a tree. That was a little startling on its own, but as I was walking further, there were more flying to the trees I was walking up to, and as I actually looked up I swear a good three of them (in separate trees) were staring at me and cawing to each other. I’m pretty sure it was just odd timing, though them seemingly following me made me a little spooked I had done something to make them mad. Apologies if you have answered a similar question beforehand, I did check first but I figured this might’ve been a little too specific of a scenario.
    (Note, I can’t describe the call too well, I forgot to write down what I would describe it as after it happened and I have a terrible memory. I do know it was short, and didn’t sound too different from the general caws I hear from them everyday apart from the length)

    • Hi Kei, this is the kind of super specific question that I get asked a lot (you’re not alone in wanted to better decode your birds!) but that I simply can’t answer. Maybe it was a fluke, maybe they felted interrupted by you, or maybe they took your stare as a threat (they are wary of the human gaze). It’s frustratingly impossible to ascertain from a single anecdote. Sorry to disappoint!

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