Home

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 a uniquely accessible animal that offers 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!

 

49 responses to “Home

  1. Eric Van Bibber

    Are there examples of crows learning small tasks from humans and then teaching other crows what they’ve learned without losing any of the steps/integrity of the task?

    • In the wild or in captivity?

      • Eric Van Bibber

        In the wild, if the human trained crows could be introduced into the wild.
        Also, could a crow rookery consist soley of crows who continually interact with humans?

      • No, there are no examples of people training wild crows to solve multi-step problems. I’m afraid I don’t understand exactly what you’re asking for your second question. Crows pretty much already continually interact with humans be they captive or wild, so I’m not sure what the scenario you have in your head is. Maybe it would me to understand if you explained why you’re asking after this particular line of questioning.

      • Eric Van Bibber

        I apologize for my questions. I’m working on a story and needed some information regarding the nature of crows. I’ve always been fascinated with them which is why I use them in the story.

      • Hi Eric, please don’t apologize! It was a totally valid and interesting question. I just wanted a better idea of what/why you were asking so I could respond in a more helpful way. Best of luck with your story!

  2. Mike Hewitt

    I just listened to you on a Science Friday podcast. Nice job.
    Question: Do ravens glide/soar considerably more than crows?
    Fun observation: While running along an old water ditch traversing a mountain in N California, I stopped to watch 2small birds, perhaps sparrows, harassing a crow/raven riding a thermal. One of the small birds flew below the, we’ll say, crow. Suddenly the crow dropped down and grabbed the bird with a talon. Then, amazingly, after about 7-8 seconds let the bird go! It joined it’s mate and flew away. It seemed the crow was teaching the sparrow a lesson: don’t mess with me!
    Very memorable. (I’d choose to return in an afterlife as a raven…)
    Thanks for sharing your work.
    Mike

    • Hi Mike. Ravens are known for soaring more than crows, yes. This is in large part because their territories are larger than crows and because they tend to live in more wildland habitats where they are using thermals to scan for carrion.

      That is a great story! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Gerry

    Just listen to your fascinating ologies podcast. Quite interesting and loved story about your special bird and that you now have its bands.

  4. lensatov

    Hi there. It’s November 1 and I was just dive-bombed three times by a crow!
    I thought they only did this at nesting/fledgling time?

  5. Ashley Force

    I just listened to the corvid thanatology ology and it was amazing. I have to say i have always loved crows and ravens. I still to this day caw at them and while listening to the podcast in my car i honked at one!! Love what you do and your energy. Very inspiring. Also I’m very sorry to hear about Go. It made me cry.

  6. Amanda Rose

    I ❤️ Birds, but especially crows and ravens and jay birds. Loved the ologies interview.

  7. Brie Sasser

    A few years ago, a young crow landed across the fence from my backyard and set about screaming like he was on fire. I took some water around the block, slipped through the gate, and went to set the water on the ground. As I set it down, the crow hopped on my hand, climbed up my sweater, and settled under my hair, on my shoulder. He wasn’t injured, or sick, or anything, so I walked home with him riding my shoulder and making croaky little purr-sounds and we hung out in my backyard the rest of the afternoon. After a few high-protein snacks, water and some flying practice, he was able to take off from the ground and off he went on his crow-business. So now I make a point to greet every single crow I see and make sure they can see my face as I walk to work and around town, and I wonder if they tell each other tales about humans they’ve met. I deeply hope so! (Thanks for the great work you do and for giving me a place to share my experience.)

  8. annetteschendel

    I have several that hang out in my yard. I am quite in love with them they are so smart and know how to get my attention for peanuts or mealworms. One, in particular, I call Funnyeye, it has one eyelid that is not quite right since it was born, half open and a little bulging, also a little smaller than the others born around the same time. The nest was in the tree on my property so I have watch it grow up. so sweet and one actually still grooms funnyeye. Would you say the purring/clicking sound they make is affectionate talk? they don’t do it often unless they are relaxed and enjoying the yard together.

    • annetteschendel

      they also play a little bird soccer with the dogs tennis ball, it’s quite fun to watch.

    • Crow calls appear to be very context specific. In that context, I think you’re absolutely right. But I’ve also seen them make those noises when they’re alone. In that context the same may mean different things.

      • an soegijo

        I just jotted down a list of the crow communications i have learnt to (mostly!) understand since observing and interacting with quite a few of them in my neighborhood over a number of years. These are European hooded crows, urban and territorial. My impression is that they differ in some respects from American crows. (The majority of territories are occupied by one pair only. Offspring are cared for and educated extensively for nearly a year, then must leave. Only one pair i know have kept a slightly handicapped daughter with them since 2014. They seem quite old and the male is weakened from an old injury; the daughter helps with defence.)
        Their voices are more middle-register than the rather high-pitched Americans. There is some variation between individuals. It may well be, as you say, that some sounds have more than one meaning according to context, but on the whole i can usually attach a clear and specific meaning to nearly all the ‘vocabulary’ i happen to know. More than half of this is made up of gestures or some form of theatrical demonstration or sign language; i feel sure there is far more of this than i am aware of. In several cases i interpret identical meaning to more than one sound. This seems to be because city crows generally prefer to keep a low profile, thus there is a quiet sound for communications between family members and a loud one for when the occasion demands getting noisy.
        Many (but not all) of these sounds and signs have often been used by my crow friends and acquaintances to communicate with me as well. I just hate to think how much i have missed, and continue to miss, through my clumsy human inability to perceive their subtle and varied repertoire.

  9. Congrats on making into discover. Also, really cool that you studied crows and such. They really are interesting birds to watch.

  10. Yay! I am so thrilled to have a new corvid blog to follow! I live in West End, Tacoma and am unashamed to admit how much time I spend watching the crows in my neighborhood. Excited for your blog!

  11. Where I live there are many vultures soaring in the sky. I love to watch them soar…so graceful. But they are not pleasant birds to look at. Having read your article, I’ll have a better appreciation for them Thanks for the post.

  12. Ola
    Interessante
    Nunca tinha pensado
    Assim sobre estes bichos
    Um abraço
    Luiz

  13. They and we also have similiary marks. They also have knowledges of natural scenes.

  14. They also have knowledges of natural scense as alike as a human.

  15. Do you really love birds? That’s amazing!

  16. Suneel Kumar

    nice post

  17. What an interesting blog! Look forward to reading more.

  18. biswanathnaskar

    Great Post!!That’s amazing!

  19. I love this! Such a beautiful concept ❤

  20. Love crows! We have a interesting intraction together. They are incredibly smart and know how to get my attention!

  21. Marjorie

    My bicycle commute takes me through a cemetery with a large crow population. Sometimes they spread out about three yards apart and cover entire hillsides. They each have their own “plot,” which is kind of eerie. Is this common?

    • Hi Marjorie. Crows will often gather together in large grass fields to feed. Since cemeteries are (from a crow’s perspective) basically just a mother large grass field it’s not unusual to see them in groups there.

  22. Danny

    I have a question about crows and sound. How much sound would it take to stun a crow? There is an anecdote about an ancient roman meeting where it was supposedly so loud that a crow flying close by fell to the ground stunned and while I doubt that actually happened I am curious to know if it is possible to stun a crow with a loud enough sound and how loud that sound would have to be.

  23. William

    Hi Marjorie, We found a juvenile Crow on the driveway mid october. there are a few crows nests in the pine trees along the driveway and our guess is it fell out. It was not able to fly and begging for food. We live on a big farm and there are various wild animals, like mongoose, honey badgers, caracals. We lost of few of our own cats to them in the past. I tried making a temporary nest for it high enough to keep my dogs and cats away. but after a day no mom or dad crow came to help it. The crows nests are very high, impossible to reach so that was never an option. We could take it to a rehab but they would keep it caged and we decided to try raise it close to its home and see what happens. For the first few weeks we kept in locked in a room and when it started to fly we left it our and only locked it up at night. then two weeks ago we started leaving it out at night too and it now sleeps on the garage roof, it is totally free day and night. It still begs for food but is digging around the garden a lot more finding insects and spiders to eat. I am trying to feed it less and less to inspire him/her to forage for itself. My cats and dogs have learned to stay away from it, and it has become very aggressive towards them, chasing them away and attacking them. I guess that is a good sign, it would be dead otherwise, especially from my two dogs, they killed all my chickens in the past. I feel it was a better option doing it this way, it has a better chance to reconnect with its family, they all still fly around here but have not connected with the crow yet. What are the chances it may one day just fly off? We have been looking after it for 6 weeks, it was probably only a few weeks old when we found it so its probably about 12 weeks old at the moment. It still does not fly away from our garden, it stays within its borders. We started taking walks far away on the farm to get it to fly farther away. Any advice you can give us to try get it wild again?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s