Big changes you should know about

Dear followers,

First off, hello! It’s been a minute since you last heard from me, huh?  Well in that time there have been three major changes which warrant special announcements.  Most significantly is announcement #1: I finished my PhD!


I wish I had been in a better place to discuss the process and even invite you to my defense, but it just didn’t go down that way.  It was a chaotic sprint to the finish that had me pulling my hair out up until the very last moment.  Why you ask?  Well because of announcement #2.  I was in an unusual time crunch to finish because I had a PostDoc waiting for me only a few days after the end of summer quarter (i.e my cutoff to graduate).  As we speak I am writing from my desk in Denali National Park where I am beginning my 1-year long  study on Canada jays!

Yes, I am mighty sad to say goodbye to the crows (though I’ll never really say goodbye), but I am so excited about working with this delightful species, particularly because of the broad conservation implications of this work.  You can read more about the specifics here and expect a dedicated post very soon.


This bring us to announcement #3: the whole blog got an overhaul and a facebook page!  With a new title and research project under my belt, I thought it was only fair the blog got some new life too.  I reached out to a former crow field tech turned full time natural history illustrator Madison Mayfield to design a logo for the blog, and boy, did she do a flippin fantastic job.  I’ve also updated all of the pages and given the blog an official homepage.  Please poke around and see what’s new.


I’ve been a bit reticent about creating a facebook page because I already do so much science communication between here, twitter and Instagram (both @corvidresearch) that I worry a facebook page may spread me too thin.  But I recognize that a good number of my followers here are not active on those other platforms, and I’d like to offer some of the scicomm work I do in those other places to those folks, including the ability to play #CrowOrNo.  In addition, I felt a real need for an official community space where you can more easily connect with one another to share photos, videos and stories.  Although comments on the Corvid Research facebook page are closed, I’ve created a connected Corivd Research group meant as a way for my followers to connect with each other (since you already have plenty of ways of connecting with me).  I will moderate the group insofar as membership requests and issues with trolling or abuse, but do not plan on being especially active there myself.  That is a space meant for you.  All that said, I want to be clear that the blog will always be the primary place I produce articles. If anything these changes mean things will be more busy here, not less! 

Phew, this has been a lot of updates!  Please check everything out and give me your feedback, particularly as far as the facebook stuff goes.  Maybe you don’t really want or need that space and if that’s the case I may get rid of it.  And shoot me your Canada jay questions so I can incorporate the answers into the upcoming post!

Best wishes,
Dr. Kaeli Swift ๐Ÿ™‚



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18 responses to “Big changes you should know about

  1. I’m so happy for you Dr. Swift!!! That’s a beautiful logo, too! Have a fantastic and bear-safe fall with the cutie corvids in Denali. โค

  2. Love the new logo, Dr. Swift. Enjoy your work with the Canada jays. Last time I was up there camping, the stinkers ate my oatmeal while I was still sitting there! Truly, camp robbers. I look forward to reading what you send our way.

  3. Congratulations! That’s quite an accomplishment, and I know you have a bright career ahead. I’ll look forward to following your Canada jay adventures. I’m not a Facebooker (or a Twitterer, for that matter), so I hope you continue with the WordPress blog. And I, too, like the new artwork. Carry on, Dr. S.!

  4. A Dexter Chapin

    Well, Dr. Swift, congratulations. Denali is heaven; a cold heaven, but heaven. Will you spend time turning your dissertation into a best-selling book? Please do not move entirely onto FB. I would not, could not, will not move there.

    • No, no, no the blog will always be the center of activity. Facebook is just an addendum meant for smaller stories. I am thinking about a book yes, though not sure about content just yet. The dissertation would not make for a good book (but will hopefully turn into several more academic articles).

  5. Dana Doherty

    Congratulations on your doctorate!
    We have never met, but I read what you write as I am interested in corvids and find “my” crows fascinating and delightful.

    My wife and I feed a pair from our deck every day here in north Georgia. Peanut and Pinochle are “our” crows and I hope someday to be able to sit on the deck without and watch them feed without them being afraid. As it is now, they both call out to us when they want us to replenish their scraps then fly down to eat once we have gone back inside. Hopefully one day they will be comfortable enough to allow us to stay outside on the deck with them when the dine.

    Dana and Jill Doherty

  6. Susan

    Congratulations Dr. Kaeli Smith!
    What a thrill it all must be. Thanks for all the work you do and for keeping folks in the loop. Enjoy!

  7. Salems_Thom

    Congratulations DOCTOR Kaeli! Enjoy Alaska. The closest I’ve come to visiting was watch ‘Northern Exposure’ which, well, wasn’t even filmed there. It was shot in Northern Washington.

    Some interesting things coming up in Salem area. First, someone posted a question regarding feeding crows on Next Door, a neighborhood-type social media site. There were close to fifty responses and only one negative one. Since we now have close to 200 showing up on some mornings we were quite relieved that we were not going to run out of town.

    The other was watching some interesting behavior with the newbie crows. Since the Corvid Class, I have spent the last few months converting Katie’s garden from sprinklers to drip. She’s a collector so hundreds of feet of tubing and well over 100 emitters had to be installed. We’ve already cut our water bill by 40% so Yea Us! but it was watching the young crows respond. At first they fought over the emitters for drinking privileges which involved pulling them up. Then they discovered they could get more water by biting through the tubing or, even pulling the emitter out. After several repairs and burying tubing, we noticed a new behavior; digging holes. They started digging trenches and holes in the dirt to catch the water at the source. Most were about 1- to 2-inches deep. Once they filled sufficiently, they could drink easily. Nearly every emitter now has some kind of excavation (either a hole or a trench leading to a hole) to catch and channel the water. At least now I am not out and repairing leaks, putting the emitter back where it belongs or replacing missing emitters (which just never seem to turn up).

    Again congratulations and Katie and I wish you the best in your endeavers.

  8. Congratulations. Would you mind putting your dissertation where I can read it? Dr John Gintowt

  9. Shay

    Well done on completing the PhD! I have been following your blog with interest for a few years from here in England, UK โ€“ I donโ€™t know why, as I do not do anything remotely close to bird research and I canโ€™t even remember how I came across it in the first place!
    But I am very happy for your success, and again thanks for such an unusual and entertaining journey into the biology and behaviour of crows, which I’ve always respected as a bird species โ€“ Iโ€™ve learned a lot. I look forward to continuing to follow your research on Jays/crows whatever. Itโ€™s a nice change from work ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. All of the above people have left such congratulatory replies, all I can say is “Ditto the congratulations!” Look forward to your news from Denali!

  11. Cookie Swanson

    Congratulations ,thank you for all your work I have so enjoyed.

  12. A crow couple and their two young crows (what are baby and young crows called?) visit for breakfast each morning. Some days “Morris” (the larger juvenile) even caws super loud until i get up and get their morning tray out.
    Often one or two will show up, check it out, and either leave and come back, or hang out but not eat
    It seems to me they are waiting for everyone to gather and have a family meal – do you have thoughts about that?

    Also, sometimes they seem quite assured an not bothered and let me get within five or six feet but other times they seem nervous even about the container held by a bungee to the deck railing

    Thanks for the Zoom talk last night!


    • Hi Peggy! Thanks for attending the Zoom presentation, I’m glad you enjoyed it. The young crows are called fledglings. At this stage they are perfectly capable of feeding themselves, but really prefer to have their parents do it. So sometimes the kiddos will hang around food, picking at it in the way kids do, and then when mom or dad show up beg incessantly for them to feed them. It’s among their most obnoxious and endearing habits ๐Ÿ˜€

      Seems like they’re still getting used to you, which would explain the hot/cold attitude toward you. Just remember the goal is for something tepid/warm. It’s cool for them to know and trust you to the point to get within and few feet, but the goal shouldn’t be to hand feed (not that you implied that it was-just saying). Boundaries protect everyone.

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