While my first love will always be crows, I am delighted to have found a new PostDoc position studying a much less familiar and understood bird; the Tinian monarch. Tinian monarchs are a small songbird in the monarch flycatcher family, native to only one island in the entire world, Tinian of the Northern Mariana Islands. Although most Americans (in my experience) have never heard of Tinian, it’s both part of the US and one of the most significant places in global history, having been the location from which the atomic bombs were ultimately assembled and the departure point for the Enola Gay in 1945. Today, Tinian is a US commonwealth though it has been the subject of global imperialism for nearly 6 centuries. Starting in the 1500s, each new era of colonialism brought with it environmental and biological changes that continue to shape the island’s people and ecology today. Of most significance was the conversion of much of the native habitat to sugar cane fields under Japanese rule from 1926-1940, and then in 1944 when Tinian was subject to extensive US-led military campaigns. By the end of WWII, only 5-7% of Tinian’s native forests were left.
Having been so thoroughly devastated, biologist at the time estimated that the world’s population of Tinian monarchs were limited to only around 50 individuals. By 1970 they were formally listed under the Endangered Species Act, though no systematic population surveys were actually conducted before listing. Once such surveys were completed in 1982, the world’s population of Tinian monarchs was astonishingly large relative to those 1940 era estimates at nearly 40,000 individuals. Populations continued to grow and the monarch was formally delisted (i.e. is no longer considered endangered or threatened under federal law) in 2004. Still, single island endemics are, by their very nature, rare and vulnerable to catastrophe. Not to mention there are still many unknowns about this bird’s even basically natural history. Which brings us to my current position. As a University of Washington PostDoc working under quantitative ecologist Dr. Beth Gardner, my current research focuses on the reproductive success of this fascinating little bird. In addition, our team is hoping to fill in many of the remaining questions regarding their natural history such as site fidelity and dispersal patterns. To do this I have the great fortune to be living on Tinian from 2021 to 2024. I am delighted to be able to contribute to expanding our knowledge and awareness of these critical and objectively adorable little birds.
57 responses to “Current Research”
I saw a dead magpie on the street behind my house two days ago while walking. This morning I heard a lot of commotion in a huge tree in the field behind my house (100 or so feet from the dead magpie) where crows, magpies and pigeons usually gather. Crows were swooping in and out of the tree and the noise was really loud. I couldn’t discern any magpie noises though. Have you ever known crows to exhibit this behaviour towards magpies or other members of the corvid family?
Hi Vincent, looking at interspecific funeral behaviors between corvids is not something we’ve formally tested yet. I wouldn’t be surprised though if the crows heard the magpies scolding and joined (perhaps oblivious to the cause) as that is something I have seen before with crows and jays. Whether crows would spontaneous scold, however, if they found a magpie body that was not already being responded to by magpies is another question, and one that deserves a look!
I found this documentary on YouTube about crows and some research on them.
This morning my wife went out front to get the paper at around 6:15 am. There was a dead young crow in the driveway behind the car, and there were about 20 crows upset flying around and in the trees and buzzing her. Very uproarious. I have been giving food to a pair of crows for around 4 months. But when I went out this morning with a hand full of kibble I was buzzed and they seemed angry with me. It’s now 9:am and they’re just now quiet. I was hoping to gain their trust enough for them to be around me without food, but now I’m worried that the relationship I’ve been cultivating is irreparably damaged. What do you think?
I don’t think you need to worry about your relationship being harmed. Think about it this way: most crow babies die. If crows gave up feeding partnerships with people every time one of their offspring was killed they’d be giving up a lot of food over the course of their lifetime. They were upset this morning because they were responding to something that had likely just happened and were prioritizing that response over foraging opportunities. Don’t worry! That said, it’s possible they will renest else where and won’t come around as much for that reason. Let me know what happens!
I live on Catalina Island and have enjoyed watching the ravens here in town and in the interior for years. I can now spot the babies by their pink mouths and know when they are growing because of their loud squawking in mornings or when eating. We’ve had many generations nest around the house. Lately I’ve noticed an unusually large one–with fluffy pin feathers on the top of the head (Rod Stuart head my husband calls him), but no pink mouth. The two others with some pink on around the mouth seemed to be protecting this one while it ate the fig I had thrown out for them. I have pictures & video. This one will come on our deck railing about 1 foot away and do the clicking sound (which I think means “all is well”). So who/what is this big, fluffy-headed dude? Is he older or younger than the others? Some have speculated that we have developed a subspecies here that no one has researched. I’ve seen some like this before but not with others as if they were family. Any clues?
No clue Lora. Could you email me some photos or videos? Especially around the other ravens, if possible. My email is kaeliswift@gmail. Would love to try and help!
How did you get into this field? I am obsessed with crows and animal behavior. Can you give me some advice on the steps to take to be a part of this fascinating and ground breaking area of research? Thank you!
Hi Michelle, why don’t you tell me more about yourself first. Are you in high school, college, a careered adult, or something else?
Hello, I live in Vancouver Washington and am 42 years old and in great health. I have a B.A. in English instead of anthropology which was my original education pursuit. It was my dream to be a primatologist and I read every book Jane Goodall wrote. I also took a class with Brian Hare on Dog Cognition from Duke University and received an A and also completed an online primatology course with Takayoshi Kano who specializes in bonobo behavior. I have two children so basically I’m a mom now but I hope to someday work with animals even if it’s just as a volunteer. People are animals so technically I didn’t give up my dream it just took me around the block so to speak and got me obsessed with psychology. My experience is as an observer, one who hasn’t been institutionalized into dogmatic thinking, which may be the best reason why I would have a clear non-biased perception that makes me qualified to be a research assistant. I’m also highly creative and can see patterns of the big picture. I’m a big picture thinker, but I can also work in repetitive jobs doing the same thing better each time. Oh, and I’ve been feeding a pair of crows for a year and put up a feeder. They come to me more in the winter. It seems like now they travel more or maybe they found a new home. A baby hawk was just born next to the pine tree where they lived and I’m wondering if they were driven away. My son and I watched crow documentaries for homeschool and did our own experiments. They are pretty friendly birds but don’t trust us yet.
There are so many wonderful citizen scientists observing crows in Vancouver. Are you familiar with June Hunter or The Crowtographer? I wish someday there is a regular meeting of all of you-I think it would be a wonderful opportunity and source of keen observations.
It’s possible the hawks “encouraged” the crows to start utilizing a different part of their territory for the time being. Keep an eye out and let me know!
Youtube videos are a great source of information too. I’ll look up those people in my area who are also interested in observing crows in nature. Thanks!
I’ve been feeding crows outside my kitchen window for several months now and enjoying building trust with them. They are very shy, but I talk to them and have noticed patterns of behavior. For example, they seem to watch for my husband’s car to leave before they come around.
Lately I’ve noticed crows in various places around town that seem to be calling to me in friendly tones. Places within a 10 mile radius. Am I nuts or is it possible these crows follow me or have learned from friends in a common roost maybe that I am the crazy crow lady? Maybe I am just more aware of crows? Or is it possible they are aware of me too?
Hi Rachel, that they watch the car is certainly true. As for unfamiliar crows hearing by word of mouth that your friendly, this is less likely. I suspect it’s confirmation bias more than anything else. But with these birds…I hesitate to say anything is impossible 🙂
Hello! I am also a crazy crow lady who is feeding one family of hooded crows nesting outside my building. And I as well noticed certain “friendliness” from other crows in the neighborhood. So I did some research and found that crows tend to share information about food sources (in this case me) with their con-specifics. Given they can recognize and remember faces, is it possible that they spread the word?
p.s. I love this blog and research you do!
Hi Milsha, we know ravens share information about food but know less about how often this occurs in crows. The reason ravens do it it because food is generally found on the territories of other ravens, so an ‘intruder’ needs several helpers to overpower the pair and take the food. Crows don’t have this dynamic so food information sharing either occurs less or is less understood. That said, I think it’s certainly possible that when new crows see you feeding your familiar birds, they learn that you must be friendly and jump on the bandwagon. Does that help?
Anecdotally, I spent the last couple years feeding and spending time with a pair of Crows (and eventually their whole family) in notoriously Crow-heavy San Diego. Over time I too began to notice what seemed like more and more Crows make note of, fly low over, and call acknowledgement to me when I was outside in what evolved into a miles-wide radius. I thought I was going crazy or falling prey to confirmation bias, but by the time I moved I was certain that I was being recognized and greeted by Crows whom I myself had never met.
Hello again and thanks for the reply! Yes, this makes more sense. These crows are omnivores with plenty of food in the city, so there is no obvious reason to share this kind of info.
Anyway, I will keep feeding and observing them, even got a new pair of binoculars to do so 🙂
Hello, I had never thought about the death of crows being a subject of interest, but after reading your blog, I’ve decided to watch a little closer. I lived in Ireland for about 8 months on the grounds of a castle that the forest around it was a rookery. I would sit outside in the evening and watch the thousands of rooks come home for the night. It was there that I learned the difference between rooks, crows and ravens. I also got to know a little more about magpies and their thievery. There was an old man that lived and worked on the castle grounds, a sort of maintenance/handyman he was in his late 80’s, we’d sit and talk about the rooks and he was the one that told me that the rooks could remember people and showed me. Every morning as he walked up from his house to let the animals loose for the day, several rooks would meet him along the drive and squawk at him as if saying “good morning”, he had names for them and would greet them graciously with a bow and a tip of his hat. The rooks would bob their heads in response, he introduced me to them and I too bowed and greeted them with honor and respect and they squawked and bobbed their heads. I had a small blacksmith shop that kept me busy and a few days later I noticed a pair of rooks sitting on the fence along my drive, I stopped and bowed good morning to them and tipped my hat. I was greeted with the bobbing of heads and squawks. After a few weeks, I noticed they’d come up near the smithy and would cock their heads at my work. One day my wife brought up a tray of tea and snacks and I could a hear a few squawks outside, I looked and there were two rooks bobbing their heads, so I tossed a few scraps of crust from a sandwich out to them which they quickly snatched and flew off with. It wasn’t long before I noticed they’d be squawking a bit louder than normal and a few minutes my wife would appear with a tray. I always smiled and thanked the rooks for their letting me know that lunch was coming and toss them some bread or crisps. I miss the rooks and the rookery and hope to one day return even if for a short visit.
Sorry for the ramblings of one that misses Ireland, hope your research and studies are enjoyable and confirming.
A wonderful anecdote Tom, thank you for sharing.
I think crows are wonderful and widely misunderstood. I was a biology teacher and I tried very hard to educate my students about the corvids and especially the crows.
The crows in our garden here in the UK, have chicks now.
I too have been feeding a crow pair (she had a leg deformity and I never thought she’d breed–what do I know?). That began 4 years ago. They’ve had 9 babies since then. I thought the original pair would fight to keep the others away and that the adolescents would have to fly away at night with the other bachelors but they don’t. They want to stay close to mom and dad. I live in East Vancouver, BC….I’m in a fishbowl with neighbours watching the backyard from all sides. They don’t want me to feed the crows saying they poo on their autos and their decks. They probably do from time to time but I find that easy to clean up. They don’t feel that way and have threatened me. I’ve discovered there is no by-law against feeding. I want to stay in relationship with my neighbours but I love the crows without reservation……helps to stave off hefty solastagia. The problem is people are saying that I am causing undue dependence and if we go away or ever move, the birds will have forgotten how to fend for themselves or they will be too trusting with the wrong humans. What do you think about that? They eat on the deck or in the backyard. I can talk to them and make short amounts of eye contact before they either press me for food or fly away…so I haven’t been overly intimate with them. Thanks.
It’s baloney. Issues of dependence/being too trusting are real when it comes to hand rearing crows but not simply feeding wild ones. That’s a big difference between crows and other birds. Once a chickadee gets comfortable hand feeding they’ll do it to anyone. Crows won’t. That said, conflicts with neighbors can escalate to lawsuits (happened here in Seattle) so be careful. If you limit your feeding to a small handful a day though, which is really all you need, you will probably be ok. Even tossing a single nut or two when the birds drop by is enough.
Thanks for your reply CR. I also read that Marzluff recommends making our backyards corvid (and migratory bird) friendly as a way to balance out the impacts of development and climate change. The other complaint I’ve gotten is that their bird poo damages shingles. Is their something in the chemical composition of their droppings that would actually do that?…..if so how do we reconcile that with bird friendly backyards?
This is fascinating research. I shared on Twitter your article with J Marzluff on crows copulating with the dead. I have been monitoring crows in my area for ten years now and have come to know som of them very well. There are a few that regularly sit on the fence outside my garden and call for me. For the first time though I have recently spotted a hooded crow. They aren’t very common here in Scotland, but it has joined my other crows and appears to live socialise with them. I am wondering if it is common for them to be alone and not have a partner that is also a hooded crow?
Thank you! (I hope you know you can also find me on twitter @corvidresearch). To answer your question, dispersing, young, unmated birds will sometimes be caught alone. They are definitely very social animals, but they’re not /always/ in the company of others.
Hello, how can I adjust the number of corvids in the city or the zoo
Can you be more specific? What do you mean by “adjust”? And when you ask about the zoo…are you referring to wild birds who reside on the zoo grounds, or captive birds that are part of the zoo? Are you a private citizen or asking on behalf of a government agency? What species of corvid are you referring to and where in the world do you live?
Good morning, local crazy crow lady from northwest BC here. I started feeding a pair of crows a few years back in an effort to address my profound bird phobia (which for some strange reason does not include crows and ducks). I feed them in specific spots on my morning walk, and by my driveway in the afternoon.
It didn’t take long before I had two pairs of crows. I named the first couple Harold and Maude, and when pair number two arrived, Harold and Mrs Harold, and Maud and Mrs Maude.
After some time, further along on on my walk, two other friendly crows would arrive, clearly asking for peanuts, too. I named them Frankie and His Wigged Out Brother.
Fast forward to now, and upon return from vacation (which I always get scolded for), a sizable flock is either already waiting for me, or one is on sentry duty, cawing for the others. They will even land near by where I strew peanuts but light if I strew them, they fly off a few feet. There must be a dozen or more. I don’t get as many in the afternoon by the driveway, though.
It’s getting a little out of hand, especially with with the quantity of cocktail peanuts required. (I had to switch from peanuts in the shell when the neighbours complained about the mess.) And it is not as pleasant for me to stay relaxed around a crowd of them flapping around and overhead. But I do think that two separate flocks/ territories have cooperated to share my offerings. They hate having their picture taken, probably because I am standing and tend to move
Why there suddenly are so many makes me wonder, are these all this year’s babies? Some of them are really scruffy looking, and a few of the new ones have some grey/ white patches and what appears to be missing feathers, mostly visible when they are flying. Could it be our very dry drought-like summer has caused them some dietary or hydration issue?
Hi Marianne, sounds like you need to cool it a bit with the feeding. Like with any conditioned training you can shape the behavior you want by rewarding the stuff you like and not rewarding the stuff you don’t. If there are too many birds (which it sounds like there are and that can be a problem for wildlife and neighbors alike) just stop feeding. They’ll be cranky and squawky for a while but eventually fewer will come and you can stick to feeding a smaller group. As far as the scruffiness goes that’s most likely due to it being molting season. The crows look like crap right now! But by winter they’ll be in gorgeous shape again, don’t worry.
I think you are right.Also pretty soon my morning walk will take place in the dark, so they are sleeping. My current issue is they follow me relentlessly, if I don’t give them any.
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So nice finding your site! I have been feeding hooded crows and magpies for half a decade. Many different crow families in their own territories around my city, all in all about 30 birds, some more often. These family groups generally hate each other but now in wintertime they all join together and come feeding. Flock of maybe 200 birds with jackdaws fly in unison every winter for few weeks in my city center. One memorable moment was when I saw few dozen preschool children playing with each other making a lot of noise playfighting, chasing etc in a park in wintertime darkness, it was only brightly lit area nearby. 50 or so of that flock was watching the kids very curiously from tree braches above, and youngest ones looked like they very much would like to join in, and understood that those are young humans having fun playing. How much is known by science about their social behaviour, structure, language etc. If you could recommend something to read? Their cognition is of great interest to learn more about.
Hi ABC, are you interested in hooded crows specifically or would you settle for something more general/biased towards American crows and common ravens? If you’re ok with starting with materials that are more general (species wise) then I encourage you to check out a blogpost with my top book recommendations https://corvidresearch.blog/2015/04/17/best-books-for-corvid-lovers/
Outside of that, unfortunately I don’t have much knowledge of hooded crows other than feeling like they are some of the most fun loving corvids based on all the sledding videos I see! I could do some digging on some science publications though if you’re really keen on hooded crows. Let me know!
Thank you for your answer! That book recommendation post included some interesting ones to dig into, “gifts of the crow” I read some time ago. Hooded crows are very playful, younger birds especially, few cheeky bolder ones had a habit of scaring me flying straight above from behind and then looking too satisfied on a branch, or angry “You haven’t been visiting me with your food lately, why?” Once I saw gang of young crows trying to mob a pair of ravens in flight and lost miserable, got frustrated and mobbed a group of magpies instead right after. Magpies replied with angry loud chattering. Sometimes hooded crows get angry when shown by older or higher ranking bird with dominant gestures and risk of a beak peck that it’s not their turn to take some food, or sit right there, etc, they many times then immidiately try to intimidate their younger sibling or some other lower bird in ranking. That seems very close to human psychological defence of displacement, maybe found in other social animal groups similarly.
Hooded crows are my main interest, and only if it is not too much trouble (and no hurry), I would appreciate especially studies of their intelligence, social habits, gestures, some meaning for calls maybe, something I could maybe use in my almost daily interaction to understand their behaviour better. Googled some russian study that claimed that they are capable to analogical reasoning, and some strange things I have seen might point to that direction.
ABC, my email is on my homepage. Why don’t you shoot me an email and I’ll send some of the PDFs I’ve found.
I have a question on the American Crows I have been feeding. It seems most of them have left. Not sure why. A couple still come, but not as many as before. I wonder if April in Denver is mating and then they are busy sitting on their nests??? What kind of behavior can I expect once they have they little ones?? I hope they all come back, I have enjoyed talking with them and observing them. I know you apparently have moved on to the Canadian Jays, but hopefully someone can answer my question.
Hi Cindy, yes by mid-March crows are busy building nests and by April the females are spending most of their time incubating eggs. So between the nest possible being further from your home and their time spent attending to it, it’s not unusual that you’re seeing less of them. Once their young fledge (leave the nest) you will start to see them exploring different parts of the territory and maybe coming back by your home. The parents will be especially protective during this time and may dive bomb people that get too close (intentionally or not) to their young. Be on the lookout for this behavior and try and help your human neighbors understand that they are just being protective parents. I hope your pair has a successful breeding attempt!
P.S. You are ALWAYS welcome and encouraged to drop your crow questions here regardless of my current job title 🙂
I live in Edinburgh and I observe and feed a group of crows here, trying to build a sense of trust. I used to live in the US so i’m more familiar with American crows. I learned the crows here are Carrion crows. They look larger than American crows and the feathers looked more iridescent. I’m curious if you know of any behavioural differences between American crows and carrion crows? How large do you think a familial group is? Quite a large group watches and interacts with me and I’ve learned to recognise 2 regulars by odd feather patches- some have lighter splotches on the tail. I love watching them and gleaning bits about their lives and how they interact with the numerous jackdaws and magpies around.
Love your blog. And, as a person with adhd too, I swear there is some strange link between adhd brains and the way corvids “see” the world.
Thanks for sharing your passion!
Hi Lesley! Carrion crows live in larger family groups than most populations of American crows. So it doesn’t surprise me you’re seeing very large groups!
Hi there- Chris here – I live in Portland Oregon and have noticed my crow family has, once again, gone quiet. It’s June and I worry when they don’t eat much during this time. I know they will return but just wonder why they don’t show up for dinner.
Guessing they are just busy with kids? I get this question a lot though and feel bad I never have a good answer for folks.
Sussex, England crow lady. Preamble……
I have been feeding various pairs of crows in the fields, (about 40 acres, six fields, hedgerows, small wood etc), around my house for 17 years. It started when I saw an eight month old crow in a wet field in December. It lacked flight feathers and was sodden. I took it to a specialist bird vet who said “genetic vitamin deficiency, feed high fat food, release when it re-fledges”.
The bird adapted well to sharing my home indoors. He sat on top of a large dog crate, chatted, took food from my hand. I called him Jim, athough i didn’t know his gender. When I went to bed at night, he flew down and pecked my wiggling toes through the duvet, and pulled the corner of the duvet up to get to them. Hilarious.
The wing feathers grew back mostly black and strong, and I released him the following June. He stayed with its parents a couple of years, in the oak behind my house, then his parents flew east, and left him the territory. He found a wife, and had youngsters that also had white specks on their wings.
Over the years I became more aware of the other crow families in the area, noted the size of their territories, began picking them out as individuals. You will all know this. Carrion crows in England don’t flock, so they all had their areas.
Jim, the original crow never quite forgave me for imprisoning him. He became wild again and ket hi distance. Some of the others I chuck dog food to and they are confiding, talkative, trusting, all to different degrees. Some couples you can’t tell who is who, some couples the female is smaller. One will be more bossy than the other, etc. I can tell the boundaries, where couples fight for the food. I try not to do that.
Anyway, I’ve built up the life stories of some. Very trusting Jemima: in the most southerly oak, had two husbands. After the first one died she went two years before another male joined her. He got an injured foot but survived. She moved south, after 8 years, but would fly back if I called (five caws). You get the picture.
The oak nearest me is now the home of descendants of Jim that came indoors, a couple who if they spot me, fly down and feed.
As the female has the white on her wings, and the bigger bird doesn’t, I wonder if it is the female who is the descendant of Jim? No matter.
Five days ago I noticed the male has recently lost his entire upper mandible. Ive been feeding him soaked kibble (Burns Alert, complete dog food) and a day ago he managed to pick up the dried kibble again, by laying his head nearly on the ground to feed. When I’ve been feeding him, his wife doesn’t take any.
Today I was amazed to see two youngsters are with them, small with their clumsy walks and little flat heads. Worryingly, they both have white flight feathers. It will be a couple of days before they fly so I am crossing fingers they will be fit enough to. I marvel that the female has been feeding them by herself, as he cannot feed the chicks. So quite an interesting family, one way or another. It’s great to read all the posts. So many crow-friends out there. Take care. Valerie
Thanks for sharing your stories Valerie!
Also in Portland, OR. It’s July and, as you say above, the family flock I feed is super noisy! There are two or three young crows in this year’s brood and one of them is about 100x noisier than the others, asking the adults for food all the time. The other(s) appear more independent, though everyone still gets fed at some point. Is this difference among fledglings usual?
Yup! just like people animals have personalities even as kids!
Hi! My husband brought an abandoned raven nestling home in the middle of May. Normally we would have taken it to out local wildlife rehabilitator, but they are closed because of the pandemic. We had it living in a nest we built that hung in a tree in our backyard. We would lower and raise the nest each day and let the bird live in our backyard until old enough to be on its own. One early morning the raven flew out of the nest before sunrise and was attacked by something, we think maybe a raccoon. We moved the raven to our enclosed patio for the evenings, but it still lives in our backyard during daylight. It lost quite a bit of feathers in the attack, but has been healing well and feathers are growing back. It is not able to fly as well as before, but is starting to get a few feet of the ground. We have been doing hand feeding and are trying to get the bird to eat on its own. I’m wondering how long we should continue hand feeding. Are we keeping the bird from eating on its own by feeding it even it calls to us for food? I put food out in a “pecking tray” and it seems like the raven is able to get some of it. Is there something else I should be doing to encourage independence? How long do ravens need to be hand fed? Right now I’m offering more food for pecking and trying to hand feed less. Our raven still has a pink mouth but eyes are staying to get darker. I’m not positive of its age. Any suggestions you could offer would be appreciated. We’re very new to this. Thanks!!
Hi Dana, unfortunately I do not offer rehab advice here. Please reach out to the folks at Corvid Isle for help: https://corvid-isle.co.uk
I watched a drama in my yard this morning. There was a gray squirrel feeding on fruits on my ornamental pear tree. A large crow landed on a higher branch snd the squirrel took refuge hiding in branches. The squirrel remain totally still while the crow on a higher branch was still and seem to move its head slowly to perhaps listen or smell the squirrel. After a period of time the squirrel ran down the tree and the crow immediately took flight after it. The Squirrel successfully slipped under fence and into the brush. I have seen crows attacking a squirrel nest in the area. In this case, it appeared that a crow was actually hunting the squirrel. Are crows predators of squirrels and possibly other adult small mammals?
Hi Kathryn, so as it happens, crows aren’t strong enough to piece the skin of a squirrel so it’s unlikely it was hunting it. It was probably cashing it away because it has a nest in the area.
Klahowya, Dr. Swift,
Thank you for writing about crows sunning themselves. Today in Eugene, Oregon, I saw one doing that for the first time – your writing put my heart at ease as I thought it was injured.
On another note, when I played The Beatles’ song “Tomorrow Never Knows”, it starts with a recording of Paul laughing, but played backwards. A crow heard it and came up to my back porch – closer than one had ever come before; looking rather agitated. Now when I play that song, I keep windows closed and the volume down.
Hi! What does it mean when a crow from a large gang I feed starts to bow it’s head at me in silence, pointing its beak towards her/his feet and keeping it there for a few seconds before repeating the gesture about 3 or 4 times? It’s usually after I’ve fed them and I’ve walked away, does this little one land in front of me doing this silent display. Thank you x
it may very well be some sort of greeting. Might be a coincidence but could be saying hi! Listen carefully, the most often make a very low sound while they do this…
Hi, I’m looking for anything on ‘crow court’/’parliament of rooks’ situations where flocks supposedly gather to pick on and kill one of their number, a common piece of folklore here in the UK. Apart from one paper on “coalitionary aggression behaviour in a group of female carrion crows ” there doesn’t seem to be much about. Have you ever come across evidence that anything resembling this behaviour occurs?
Hi David, you want find much on this because it’s not a real thing. They do sometimes kill each other but not in the manner that it is explained in the folklore. Sometimes two or more crows get into direct conflict and it escalates to the point that one is killed; but there no court. More like a road rage incident than a premeditated murder.
Thanks! That’s pretty much what I’d gathered. I assume there must be some activity which people mistake for this. Could it be funeral related – they see a disturbance, there’s a dead bird afterwards and they draw the wrong conclusion about cause and effect
In Vancouver Canada I have seen this happen at nesting time when one of the bachelor crows… or last years’ babies won’t leave the current nesting area ( the whole street block).…mom and dad will attempt to forcibly run the rogue off. If the rogue persists, other members of the local flock can get involved in an attack. Attacks in my experience have resulted in minor wounds or loss of use of a wing… leading to death by other predators. As new parents get ready to sit on eggs they want ground and airspace cleared off all birds. In my experience, Once fledglings begin to fly, flickers, other crows, seagulls, blackbirds are again permitted to take up shared space