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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 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!

 

540 responses to “Home

  1. R

    Hello ! It’s so nice to see this blog. I’m fascinated by crows and feed them at home and at work (when I used to go to work, now it’s all work from home) and just generally enjoy their company.

    I have a crow couple nesting in a tree in front of my house. I tried feeding them but they didn’t seem to want what I gave. Then I realised they had plenty of food but very few water sources. I put out a water dish for them that they now use regularly to wash and soften their food before feeding their kids (who should be ready to test their wings soon). I even managed to feed one by hand once but the second time was less successful.

    I was really happy with our relationship. I’d give them their space and if I came out to the balcony they’d stay right where they were and carry on doing what they were doing, completely unbothered by my presence. Sometimes we’d watch the world go by downstairs ‘together’.

    That’s what I thought we were doing today when I went out to the balcony door a phone call. One of the crows was in its usual spot in one of my trees. It started approaching me slowly. I thought this just meant it trusted me but then it perched on the door frame just behind me and when my back was turned it swooped me!! I felt its claws graze my head before it returned to its tree and started making its way to the door again.

    I’m pretty devastated by this betrayal but I’m also wondering what’s going on. There seems to be some crow drama afoot as there are several more crows in the area who aren’t usually around. They seem to be standing guard or keeping watch or something and they are frequently communicating with each other. I checked the nest and all the babies are there so it wasn’t a fallen fledgling. I can’t see anything on the verge of death either so it’s not dinner. They’re very agitated (and they’re up past their usual bedtime) and i can’t tell why. Surely not because of my 15 minute phone call…

    • Hi R. Don’t take this personally! It’s so easy to feel like we are completely on the same page with crows and then, bam! They remind us that while their relationships with us are intimate, they’re not pets and have they boundaries. Why the shift in behavior, I cannot say. Perhaps there is an unseen predator hanging around, like a raccoon. They sometimes take up residence in trees to wait out the daytime and can cause quite a stir!

  2. Atzhiri Chavez

    In http://avesnoir.com, what happen to “10 Really Weird Crow Facts” and some other articles?

  3. Cheryl Forrest

    I just saw the most amazing thing. “My” original
    Crows lost their territory around my home. There is now a new crow family around with four youngsters. I’m pretty sure I know which of the mated pair is the dad. Since there are young ones, I make them scrambled eggs every morning, along with dog food, and sometimes cheese.

    The smallest youngster was having a hard time getting to the eggs, due to other crows flying around and landing. The “dad” grabbed a mouthful of eggs and deposited it on the ground in front of his fledgling. As he did this, he made a bow!

    I’ve seen this done with mated pairs, but never to a fledgling. Is this normal behavior with fledglings? I assume he was letting the fledgling know that he didn’t consider it “his” eggs, but his youngsters food?

    • Hi Cheryl. Hmmm I suppose that could be. Usually at this stage they’re still just feeding directly though. Did the kids then eat it?

      • Cheryl Forrest

        Kaeli, Actually, the 4 fledglings had all been getting their own eggs and cheddar cheese. None of them were being fed, to my observation, when this “event” happened. In all likelihood, the parents were still procuring food/feeding them, for the remainder of the day, until they were served dinner:) The fledgling that the dad presented the eggs to appeared to be the smallest, and likely the youngest. That fledgling seemed to need lots of extra attention from the parents, and did “aw” the most, and likely did still get fed other times during the day. The three other fledglings still seem way more developmentally advanced than this little fledgling.

        After the “dad” laid the eggs at the fledglings feet, he bowed, then turned and walked away. The fledgling ate at least part of the eggs by him/herself. I was truly astonished! It’s like he was being a “servant leader” 🙂
        Thanks for all your research and for your blog! I love watching these birds hours daily, while doing tasks. They are always full of surprises.

        I have to share another fun story. I put out a small pool for them, and I have a bird bath. A couple of weeks ago, the “dad” sat in the birdbath, while two of the fledglings “played” in the pool. It was so cute! The adult looked pretty content cooling off for like fifteen minutes!
        Cheryl Forrest

  4. bstownshend

    Thanks for all the great info in your blog! We have a pair of crows living in our backyard and I was wondering about whitish/gray spots on their breasts. Is this something typical? See https://bst.smugmug.com/Events/202007-Crows

  5. Tracy Brewer

    We have 5 crows that hang here. Three have white spots on them. Two of those have matching spots. How rare is this?

  6. Ben

    We have a new neighbor as of 2 months ago. We’ve gotten pretty friendly and I think he/she is a Carmel crow…love to share pix with you.
    Ben Palmer
    Alki Beach Seattle

  7. Ann Fasano

    Just found crow in street on Capitol Hill, seems unable to walk, feet curled up, but alert. Flapped a bit, but didn’t fly. Lifted with gloves to bushes by side of road, is that all I can do? Is it too late in season to be baby tumbled from nest? Any thoughts on curled up feet? Might it be poisoned? Appreciate any info.

  8. Donna

    There is a group of crows that visit my backyard daily. ( I feed them peanuts and they like my bird feeder). They are always the same crows and there is something wrong with each of them. They seem to work as a team and take care of each other. One has no foot —- just a stump. One is lame… his foot is twisted behind him. Two or tree have a lot of white on their feathers… like they have been splattered with paint and the underneath of their wings are more white. One has a mangy ruffley neck that is white.
    We have lots of glossy black ravens in the area but these do not hang out with them. At first I thought that they had beef affected by pesticides but they appear to be fairly healthy. Can you give me your thought on this and what I should perhaps be leaving out for them other than peanuts. I have left fruit but they are not interested.
    I live in Carmel by the sea, ca.

  9. LittleBirdy

    Hi- I have a “Feeding Crows in the Time of COVID” question for you.
    I am a fan of crows (and people who study them). We live in an urban neighborhood not far from UW.
    It’s kind of a long story involving a one-legged crow who showed up in our yard freshly injured over two years ago. We started feeding him/her, since we were not able to help in any other way. Eventually, it morphed into us feeding maybe 12-15 crows once or twice a day. The group size stayed about the same for those two years.
    The one-legged crow has survived all this time. We consider him or her a “friend.” Unfortunately, our friend now has up to fifty or sixty other friends who essentially never leave the immediate vicinity of our yard. I think this is partly because of the pandemic- it *seems* like there is less food available in general. Our neighbors are less than pleased with this situation. Several have recently made it known that they want the feeding to stop. Now.
    My question is how much of an impact will it have on the crows if I just stop feeding immediately? I have not been feeding much over the last two days and they are mostly still hanging around. Will they find food elsewhere? I am ASSuming/hoping so. Since you don’t see too many dead crows lying around (mostly fledglings), there must be more food than I think. But I would feel better hearing you say that the crows will be fine without my feeding..
    Thanks.

    • Hi there! So short answer: they will almost certainly be FINE. Crows eat human food, yes, but they also eat a ton of bugs and luckily the pandemic has not affected our yards! And unfortunately unhappy neighbors have succeeded in taking crow feeders to court over perceived damages, so I would heed your neighbor’s wishes now before the problem gets worse. I’m sorry they’ve put you in that position, as I know it’s hard to cut these relationships off. Limiting feeding to only a pair, and to only a handful of food a day, can really help make sure you’re reaching a good balance between your own needs and those of your neighbors. Which truthfully includes other kinds of wildlife as well. So give it space, 6m or so, and then you can see if you can pick up just feeding one to two here and there again.
      Kaeli

  10. Robin Carlson

    Great presentation last night! Love your enthusiasm coupled with your vast knowledge, and your ability to present information to the layperson.

  11. Joanne Kroll

    Just curious: I know that crows recognize our faces (and I do have a lovely and faithful crow following). But, these days we have no faces. We have hats, sunglasses, masks, maybe more. No visible face. What else are these creatures recognizing??

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