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!
804 responses to “Home”
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.
Hi Lynn, it moves around but tends to congregate near the Ikea.
I have two crows that I feed regularly, they come to this tree in my yard around 8-9am. I don’t know if they are a pair or just friends, but the smaller one always waits for the bigger one to eat first. The small one will caw when I first throw out the nuts, and then some time later usually makes two, softer “honk” sounds. They’re not super deep, medium in pitch, but sort of sounds like the crow is saying “honnnk, honk”. I’ve never heard the other one make this sound, or any other crow in my neighborhood do this. Are they male and female? What’s up with the honk noise?
Yes, sounds like contact calls between a male/female pair!
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.
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
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!
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.
Thank you very much!
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
Hi Debbie, I’m glad you enjoyed the talk! Although this post was written for a population out here, you can extrapolate the same explanation for your crows out there. https://corvidresearch.blog/2017/12/08/15000-crows/
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.
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!
This is pure.
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!
I’m sorry, I don’t know that one! Some kind of associative learning test, but without more information I can’t narrow it down to more effectively search the lit.
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
I’m sorry you lost your friend, Cynthia, and that you had to share your neighborhood with such a person 😦
What do crows and ravens look like under a blacklight?
I don’t know for sure, but I don’t believe them to be especially colorful. You can read more here: https://corvidresearch.blog/2020/12/02/crow-curiosities-can-crows-see-uv/
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.
Hi Barbara you are welcome to email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, but no promises I can decode it for you!
Chasing down imaginary “culture criminals” and alienating your readers. Good job!
Goodbye! I hope you spend the time you might otherwise have spent here thinking about why a post on being respectful towards indigenous people gave you such a fit.
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!
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.
I love birds, but Corvids are my favorites. I would love to know more about them.
Then you’re in the right place Marie! I have hundreds of articles on all sorts of topics for you to look through 🙂
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.
Yes, and it goes in reverse too. The squirrels will watch the crows cache and come dig up their food after the crows leave.
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!
We have some crow neighbors. Over the years, we’ve watched many fledglings mature, shedding their juvenile “begging” voice for more dignified caws, coos, and rattles.
I’ve noticed that one of last year’s fledglings still whines and begs and generally sounds/acts like a little kid, for lack of a better word. It struck me that I’ve never noticed this before. I guess my question is: for how long does an average crow use their baby voice?
In my experience offspring will continue to beg from adults as long as they remain in the natal area. So it could be for a year or more! That said, they can also make proper adult calls by this time too.
I live in Leipzig, Germany and I’m receiving visits from a limping crow (Corvus cornix, according to wikipedia – the one with the back and belly grey) since November. I’m feeding her nuts, cat food and eggs (which btw should I boil? I haven’t so far). The thing is, I’m moving to a new place in March about 2,3 km away from my current address. I’m kinda entertaining the idea of “taking her with me”. And I believe I read somewhere that, if you accompany the giving of food with a sound you can upon relocation use that specific sound to call them. My question is: How exactly do I go about that? Do I wait until I see her around, then put the boombox on the terrace and then the food? I have to say that I’ve been doing it the other way around, that is I wake up, change her water, put the food out and when she comes, she comes. And what type of sound is recommended? I had a Finnish folk song in mind.
Moreover, should I even be doing this, or would I intervene too much in the crow’s life and nature’s cycle? An ornithologist told me you’re not supposed to feed birds from March until October, because that’s the warm season and they can very well manage by themselves.
On a different note, can the type of crow that I mentioned form a pair with a raven? Because I sometimes see her together with this raven and at first I thought maybe they’re a couple, but then I noticed she seems a bit scared of him – hopping away from he feeder when he lands, startling when he moves this way or the other (I’m totally assuming their gender, I have no clue which one’s what).
Hi Valentina. Personally, I wouldn’t try to relocate this crow. If it’s a territorial adult it will be fruitless to move it because it will be bound to the territory. If it’s not then you might be endangering it by bringing it into another pair’s existing territory that might act aggressively towards it. Thats said, I’m less familiar with the social dynamics of hooded crows. As for the partnership with the raven, while hooded crows and carrion crows hybridize, there’s no evidence as far as I know of them hybridizing with ravens, so I doubt that’s what’s going on. They might just both be young and unattached and hanging around the same area.
Thank you so much for your answer! I really appreciate it.
I love how smart corvids are and love to learn as much as I can about them!
Why crows don’t mingle with other birds while feeding on grains? Yesterday I captured a video of it in Delhi, India. Unable to get an answer. They sat on tree crowing but hesitant to join pigeons , parrots & peacock in eating grains near car park .
Crows are quite shy and scared of new things. So they often let other birds “test the water” before they’ll join.
What can lead crows to establish a new roost?
There’s a strip mall across from Santa Clara University whose parking lot is now home to dozens of crows in every tree at night.
There are far fewer people in the area now because of the pandemic. Could that explain it?
Hi Garth, it likely has more to do with changes in the vegetation structure than with the pandemic. But we really don’t know much about how crows choose roosting sites or why they occasionally move.
I am so fascinated with crows. I feed them several times a day. I think they follow me when I leave my house to meet friends at a café just blocks away. My friends are skeptical. Especially if I’m at an outside table. I see them staging in tall trees with a clear view of me at the table. I only need to look up over my shoulder into the trees. I’m not sure how many times it’ll take to convince my friends? I’m so glad to know that if I reduce the amount of food they won’t starve. At this time I’m providing 40lbs of dog food every 4 days. That’s about my limit but I’m such a push over.
Hi Terry, I strongly encourage you to reduce the amount of food you are providing. A handful of food a day is plenty, I promise they won’t starve! Feeding them too much can cause both ecological and human conflicts that we should strive to avoid. Still, I appreciate the desire you have to keep them happy!
I just had a friend send me a current picture of a caramel crow in the Seattle area. I’m wondering whether it was the same one you had happened on. (I know you can’t answer that ) 😊
If you can tell me the neighborhood I can give you a good guess…
Thanks for your work!
I would like to know, can we use your photos of crows as profile pictures, please?
Hi Etolie, sure thing. I appreciate photo credits when possible though 🙂
I saw a brown crow this afternoon. Is the a hybrid of the American Crow? A different species? A mutation? It’s face was black. It was pecking the grass for bugs like other American crows around it
It’s not a hybrid but rather a (likely) genetic mutation that interferes with color production. You can read more about what I call caramel crows here: https://corvidresearch.blog/2017/03/02/have-you-ever-seen-a-caramel-crow/
In the large oak tree behind our home every year a crow will sit and just caw at perfectly timed intervals ALL DAY. Trying to understand why, is it mating, hungry baby, warning others?? Any ideas that might satisfy my curiosity would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Holly, when you say every year, is it always at a specific time of year?
Hello! I had a question about crow nesting. I’ve noticed my two crow friends (Bernard and Florence) doing some behavior that leads me to believe that they’re nesting. They’re always together so I’m fairly convinced they’re a mating pair, and they’ve been flying in and out of a bushy tree near my house.
I think that their babies may have been born today- there’s a huge group of crows making a big ruckus and flying in and out of the bushy tree, in contrast to a normal day when its only my two crow friends vising me.
My question is, do you think my assumptions are correct? And if they did have babies, do you know when I should expect to see them visiting me?
Thanks for your time and I appreciate/admire your work! (-:
hello. I am beginner “researcher” and I am interested in researching the relationship corvids can have with humans and exactly how that looks/works. I am wondering if you could help me by giving me some information on groups doing research on this or if there is a way I could conduct my own study
Hi Sean, I don’t know of any groups currently conducting research but I think this post will help you get started…https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=what+kind+of+crow+feeder+are+you&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
Love our crows. Grandmas always said to take care of them. (Hupa/Pomo) We received an old metal bottle one time! We were so happy!. We usually get little white pebbles. Amazing birds. Thanks for your time.
My wife recently witnessed several crows taking hard pieces of bread and dipping it them in water and then consuming them. Was wondering if this is something you’ve seen? Im guessing they by chance found that it made it easier to eat, being that i can’t think of a situation that they would have witnessed it and therefore mimicked it. Just curious.
John Miller/Denver Colorado
Hi John, yes this is a very common behavior and one that’s much to the chagrin of many a bird bath owner!
Hi, yes I’ve seen this. Have watched magpies do it too. They are very clever!
I have a crow story for you. A crow family has been nesting in my yard every summer for four or five years. Protecting their nest from predators also protects my Runner ducks so they are welcome to share the duck food and claim any stray eggs my girls lay during the day. I also give them their own mealworms when the ducks get their treat. The crows have been very curious about my girls over the years, investigating their house and keeping track of their activities. This year we got a drake to head the flock. He’s a horny thing and his love making is a little rough. He’ll chase a girl around, grab her neck, throw her to the ground and mount. This evening a crow happened to be watching this event and apparently didn’t approve. It flew down and pulled Soda Quacker’s tail until he stopped. After chasing the crow off Soda went back to finish the job, but the crow flew back and repeated its attack! It went on like this until the other ducks ran over and outnumbered the crow. It looked very much like the crow was trying to protect my duck! Is it possible?
I think it’s more likely that the crow with simply excited by the commotion and was just getting in on the excitement or that it was hoping the female was dead and trying to distract the male so it could feed. BUT that said…anything is possible and maybe the crows have developed some kind of bond with the ducks!
Hello! I fell in love with my local family of crows and made the mistake of feeding them for most of the year. It is now nesting season and for the first time ever they are calling to each other at night – often around my house – just one or two screaming to another crow almost too far off to hear. Usually between 3am and 6am. It has been a total nightmare and I feel responsible and I’m sure my neighbors think I am, too. They seem to be bothered by something, they are not looking for food and they are not calling to me. They totally ignore me if I go out to get them to stop. It’s like they’ve gone mad and I can’t help but feel I somehow empowered them to feel comfortable enough to make so much noise. Is there anything I can do?
Hi Vanessa. So good news bad news. First, the reason they are hanging out near your house at all hours is because that’s where the nest is. The good news is that there’s no reason to assume that they nested near your house because you feed them. It’s very unlikely that your concern that you’ve emboldened them is true. Many a crow feeder is disappointed to find that “their” pair chose to nest elsewhere and many a crow ignorer/hater is surprised to find they nested in their backyard. In the urban and suburban setting, precise nestling locations have less to do with food and more to do with the availability of appropriate vegetation. So you can disabuse yourself of that notion that you’re responsible for this (which even your direct experience of being ignored suggests you’re not). The bad news then of course is that there’s nothing you can do about this. This is just what crows do during the breeding season. It’s just a matter of waiting it out and perhaps working to remind your neighbors that our neighborhoods are shared spaces with families of the non-human kind too.
I have two fledglings that have been in our fields for a couple of days. they have just ventured onto the road and one of them has been killed. As this is on a bad bend. I have brought the other one onto our yard, which is between the field and the road. The yard is quiet and I have put the fledgling in a safe place where the Mum can see it. I am concerned that as the evening comes though the yard is very open. Would it be better if I put it back in the field with the long grass for safety? I haven’t intervened or fed it apart from picking it up with some gloves on to transport it off the busy road. Thanks in advance
Hi Lindsy, this is a tough call. At this point I would err on the side of interfacing with it as little as possible rather than to guess at what the best spot for it to be is. if your yard is open then it will leave if it needs to. I wish it good luck!
I feed about 50 crows on a redwood grove with good shelter. The landowner has demanded I stop immediately. I’m trying really hard to migrate this group only 800 feet away. I slowly drive my car that they desperately fly in front of, to the new spot; it’s not working. I throw a few peanuts as I slowly drive to the new spot. Just not working. Unfortunately they are dependent on this food and I don’t know how to get them to new area. I’ve even added boiled eggs. Any ideas, please?!!!
Hi Birtta, I assure you they are not dependent on you, though they no doubt really really like what you are doing. If you find that they will not move to the new location, then you may need to find a new group to feed. You old group will be just fine though I could certainly understand the heartbreak of losing them.
Today, I also saw a caramel crow. I was very surprised, to say the least. But I am certain that it was a crow, as it was sitting on a neighbor’s lawn with a murder of five other crows. The others were all black.
I live in Springfield, Missouri. Yesterday morning I was at one of our major intersections. I was westbound, there were 2 crows on the traffic light I was facing and 1 crow on each traffic light facing the other 3 directions. The crows not facing me kept looking at the traffic they were each facing and cawing. As soon as the lights changed where the 2 crows facing me were able to get on the pavement safe from oncoming traffic the other crow were cawing differently. It seemed to me as though they were communicating to the 2 that is was safe to fly down and get what looked like a discarded burger or sandwich. I am a bird lover and watch birds wherever I am. This was just an awesome sight, I know corvids are highly intelligent, is what I am thinking possible? Thank you.
Hi Jeri, when it comes to crows I like to say that nearly anything is possible, though I haven’t heard a story quite like this before.
Hello Dr. Swift,
Two questions. I just began feeding my new crow family. Mom, dad and two fledglings nested in my backyard this past March. I feed them a variety of nuts, seeds, grubs, fruit, and boiled eggs with shell.
First, I noticed that my peanuts have gone bad. Will this make them sick? I feel silly asking since they eat carrion, but I wanted to be sure, esp since mama crow has now been missing for two days. Since the pair are never apart, I fear she’s dead. Luckily, the two chicks can now eat on their own, but dad is very quiet and not active these past two days. I worry he may be ill as well. Bought new peanuts.
Second, since crows mate for life, do they find new mates if their partner dies? Thanks!
Hi Miriam, I think part of our responsibility if we choose to feed wildlife is to keep food safe as possible, so it’s best not to feed spoiled peanuts. Let them fish them out of the garbage cans themselves if they’re so included. As for your second question, yes crows will take another mate (often as quickly as possible) if their partner dies.
I finally got around to listening to your interview with Alie on ologies. I learned some new things, thanks! I an a fish and wildlife technician and the primary fish culturalist for the California department of fish and wildlife at the Mad River Hatchery in Humboldt county. I have lived and worked at this facility for 15 years. We typically have many families of Crows, 60-80 birds living around our facility. I have learned to identify individual birds and pairs by behavior and markings. We have also had Leucism show up in a few birds. I was wondering if you knew if that was a trait caused by a high protein diet ( they eat a lot of salmon and trout fry as well as pellet fish food). I have also observed them rolling in dirt and picking up ants. My guess would be it is to combat mites, but would like your thoughts on that as well. Over the years I have witnessed many funerals. They have even responded to a flicker that got hit by power lines and died. I have read that crows have learned to collect oysters and drop them in traffic to break them, I have seen this during walnut season. We have to watch for falling nuts during October because the crows will sit on the street lights around the facility and wait for us to drive by,lol. It is an amazing place to observe and study crows. The redwood trees create an great rookery. If you ever need a quiet place away from annoying public to study let me know. It’s a 45 acre facility heavily wooded, adjacent to the Mad River,about 14 hrs south of Seattle. Thank you for your work.
Hi Jason, glad you enjoyed the episode! The odd white feather can be caused by a great many things, but too much protein is not one of them. It’s actually sometimes a lack of protein that does it. As for the ants, you are correct that we think anting is a way for them to combat parasites.
I also think crows are not only beautiful creatures, but truly underappreciated in their intelligence as well! I owe it to people like you who spread more attention about those magnificent birds!
Very happy to have found this site.
Glad to hear it Cheryl!
Crows vs. squirrels: A while ago I was putting peanuts on my patio wall. That resulted in a crows vs. squirrels competition, which lasted until neighbors complained. The crows usually won! I concluded that was because they had two significant advantages: they were smarter. and they could fly!
Mug Crow: Please see my earlier posts about him/her. When I was about 12 years old some folks arrived for a visit with my parents. The visitors complained that a “horrible bird had swooped at them” when they got out of their car. My mother explained that was just Mug Crow. The grille of their car was splattered with dead bugs. Mug Crow ate his fill of them, and then stashed many of the remaining ones under leaves or other yard debris.
Oh yes Bill, I am very fond of your Mug stories!
Hi, I had left a comment about crows flying with their feet down and then finding the crow they were circling that had just died. I’ve never seen crows fly with their feet down but they were circling and communicating and when I got to where they were, that’s when I found a crow that just died. I know this because I had just walked past there 10 minutes ago. Is this common for crows?
Hi Darjo16, this was a fun question for me to answer. I found a paper on this subject from 1909 entitled, “The position of birds’ feet in flight” and although they describe every order of bird (and thus only give a short summary for each) the author had a proclivity for crows and spent an unusual amount of time discussing just them! Here’s a quote from the paper that you might find helpful, “A Crow, in rising on the wing, often lets its feet hang at first, and then draws them up in front in an exceedingly leisurely manner.” Hope this helps!
I’m enjoying reading about your research Dr. Swift. We live in the Midwest and have had crows cohabitating in our backyard for years. During that time we’ve been the recipient of many gifts (all sorts of plastic toys, golf balls, colorful pieces of ropes, plastic flowers, etc) but recently, they have seemed to be targeting our 2 dogs with presents. This summer alone, we’ve found 3 different bones (two cut for dogs and one rib bone) left in the yard! They are really interested in watching from the treetops as the dogs chase after balls so perhaps they’re curious about the creatures. Not sure if they would put the concepts of dog and dog bone together but it’s neat to think about nevertheless. ps – This year’s strangest present was a wounded bat dropped right by us during the day. Anyway, thanks for the info into these amazing birds!
Hi all! I’m concerned about the crows in my neighborhood. I’ve begun feeding crows in this neighborhood this year and one of my biggest peanut fans has a wound, growth or some kind of injury on his leg as well as having a broken upper beak. Recently the growth grew and became quite pink and the crow began limping. I didn’t see this crow again for nearly a week until today. Now the growth/wound is black and the same color of the rest of its leg. The crow is no longer limping, thankfully. I’m still worried. Why is his beak broken? Is it genetic or is he and some others sick? I would just think it’s a one off but I observed another crow with the same looking growth on its leg lower down near the foot and today I met another crow missing a leg! Is there something wrong with these crows? I worry because I’ve never seen such a sad bunch of crows. I’ve been feeding crows for years in Portland, OR in the neighborhoods I’ve lived in and I haven’t encountered messed up crows like these. I know it’s only three out of all the bunches of them in that neighborhood park but it feels weird. If there is something going on, who should I contact? There’s the bird count for Cornell’s ornithology lab and they have you note eye disease in finches. Are there similar conditions crows that plague crows? Is it important to note these things, and if so, who should know about this?
A concerned crow fan
Hi Chan, the growths you are describing sound like avian pox. You can learn more about it here: https://corvidresearch.blog/2014/08/16/identifying-crows-dieases-avian-pox/
Avian pox is a fairly common condition among crows and not one that anyone is specifically tracking. As for the broken beak, that most like happened by accident though genetic deformities are also possible. You can read about broken beaks here: https://corvidresearch.blog/2016/02/08/crows-with-broken-bills/
Thanks for caring about your local crows so much!
Just listening to ologies (on the crow funerals)
You are amazing!
I’m a retired teacher-would have enjoyed having you in my class. I’ve taught general & special Ed students —students would love learning what you do & your journey
(I feed & observe 6-24 crows every day. Such cool creatures)
Thank you for all you do. Your research is fascinating.
Hi! I am a applied biology student in The Netherlands and I am currently and I am currently focusing on corvid intelligence. One of the topics I am looking at is atypical behavior in corvids. When looking up information about stereotypical behavior I didn’t find any information about stereotypical behaviors in corvids, but a lot of information about parrots. Do you know about any researches on atypical behaviors in corvids? Or do you have some information on this topic? Thanks in advance!
Hi Baukje, what in interesting question. My guess is that the abundance of atypical parrot behavior literature is derived from parrots in the pet industry, though I would be very interested in you validating that or not. As for corvids, no I can’t really think of anything papers like that. Are you after specific aspects of their behavior? Narrowing down might help with your search…For example, my paper on crows copulating with dead crows would be considered atypical but you’d never find that by searching “atypical crow behaviors” because that wasn’t the focus of the article…
Do / can crows carry large bones? Twice recently I hAve heard a thud on my flat roof in the United Kingdom. When I looked, both times there was a bone laying there. This time I measured it: 5.5 inch femur bone, weighing 73g. I’m guessing pork, hock bone. I do see crows around the house sometimes but I don’t feed them. It is very strange – could it be the crow?
Hi Rachel, it’s funny-I get this question a lot and I just don’t have a good answer. No one, as far as I know, has formally tested weight limits for crows. The conventional wisdom is that most birds can only carry half their own body weight. As a typical carrion crow weighs ~450g, that bone would fall well into that threshold, so it’s possible.
Is it possible that crows do what gulls do when they drop shellfish on rocks or ice to break them?
Hi Toby, yes they do. In fact crows are even more adept at this skill than gulls. In certain parts of Japan, they’ve learned to use cars to crack open nuts and even time it to use crosswalks to collect them.
Some day we are going to have you come to Orcas and give one of your talks. Lots of interest here.
I didn’t type spiritual can you remove that from my question please
Weirdly enough I can actually edit other people’s comments. So I did.