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When a crow dies, the other crows investigate the cause of death (2015) (nationalgeographic.com)
626 points by reimertz on July 20, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 228 comments

A VERY timely article for me. About a month ago here in Silicon Valley, I noticed that a crow had been violently torn apart and the pieces scattered all over my backyard lawn. I assume the killer was a raccoon--another improbably intelligent animal. How those fat, little ninjas do what they do is beyond me, but one had apparently caught a crow. A few hours after I noticed the carnage, I grabbed a paper grocery bag and some rubber gloves and went outside to collect the crow parts.

As soon as I touched the first piece (a large, black, detached wing), a dozen crows appeared out of nowhere flying in tight circles over my head (about the height of the roof of my 2-story house) and shrieking. They must have been standing watch for hours waiting to see what would happen. Within a minute or so, their numbers had doubled, swarming like bees and screeching. They went so berserk that I thought for sure they would swoop down and peck at me like Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds", but they didn't. They stayed up there and screeched the whole time I was cleaning up (maybe ten minutes).

I took the bag over to the recycling bin on the side of the house. Property is expensive, so the houses are close together leaving only a narrow slit of sky above me. The crows followed me and flew back and forth right above the gap, still screeching at me. I hadn't killed the bird, but they were acting like an angry mob blaming the wrong guy.

I was already aware of the studies showing that crows recognize individual people and can bear grudges for years. I was afraid that's what I was going to end up with, but after that event, they never bothered me again, and I see crows around my house frequently. Maybe they DID know that I wasn't the killer, but they had some other agenda. From my perspective, they (and raccoons) are essentially alien intelligences living among us that I always underestimate and still don't understand.

You are right, they are very interesting in their displays of intelligence. One time when I was hunting, there were a group of crows near my camp site. They would come down and investigate where I was staying looking for any scraps of food. As soon as my gun was visible they would all fly several hundred yards away and observe me from a safe distance. Once I put my gun away they would all return back to my camp site to look around.

It was very clear they knew exactly what the gun was, and knew to stay clear of it when they saw it. I never thought about crows the same after that.

My city has a big flock of them that migrate to another city. Some USDA guys chase them around in a pickup truck when the group gets big and chases them away with strobe lights, lasers, distressed crow sound effects and bottle rockets.

When they show up and start settings up, the crows swarm them and poop everywhere. It's pretty crazy.

The USDA sounds like a shitshow in general. http://harpers.org/archive/2016/03/the-rogue-agency/6/

In many ways yes, because in effect they represent producers' interests, which are often in opposition to the public's and the country's interests.

* Puppy mills fall under USDA regulation, because animals are livestock. The agency has been enabling cruelty on mass scale for years, through failure to police simple standards. http://www.caps-web.org/blogs/our-least-favorite-acronym/

* Remember the food pyramid? It's been tugged not by science but by grain and meat interests for years. eg, http://www.ruralvotes.com/thebackforty/?p=4805

* Grazing federal lands (USDA forest service...) is a subsidy for ranchers that damages via erosion and contamination. I'm okay with that but the cost should be borne by the ranchers and reflected in product pricing, not via the taxpayers.

* Meat inspection is a joke. Have you eaten any prions (CJD, mad cow) lately? No one knows because we don't require bulk testing. Hormones, antibiotics in the farm runoff? Bacterial resistance? You're paying for that in the long run too. Mor USDA failure to protect the public.

* Corruption? Sure: http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/05/latest-usda-scandal-organi...

Not my favorite agency.

The USDA deterrent must be crazy to watch. Lasers pointed at crows? Fireworks? I suppose it would be effective, but it sounds wild (and perhaps cruel in the case of fireworks--they're not shooting them at the animals, are they?)

It is bizarre. The first time I saw it I thought it was just some crazy people.

What happens in the fall and winter is that they roost in mass in large trees in large numbers -- I'm talking tens of thousands of birds.

We tend to get them in our trees in the morning for some reason, and they aren't as active, so it isn't that big of a deal. But a few blocks away they land in the evening and make a lot of noise -- it's almost like car horns.

With the fireworks, they don't aim at them, but almost set them up in a "box" to agitate them. I think the objective is to get them broken up into smaller groups and move off to a less populated area. The freaky thing is the distressed crow noises coming from a PA in the back of the truck.

I've heard of crow distress effects being used to stop them roosting. The idea is to broadcast the noise at odd intervals causing the flock to rise into the air and investigate. Eventually they move on as they never settle properly.

[They stayed up there and screeched the whole time I was cleaning up (maybe ten minutes).]

I probably would have went inside and left the remains to nature. I commend your bravery. It seems like a squad of crows could do some real damage to a person.

Also, I can confirm that raccoons are very intelligent. They're basically like dogs but with more "street smarts". I learned this after trying to get one to leave my attic.

Also, a side note about Raccoons: be sure not to expose yourself to their droppings (for example, if one is living in your attic, don't go and clean up their droppings without proper protection). They can apparently contain some airborne parasite which can kill you in days if inhaled.

It seems like a squad of crows could do some real damage to a person.

A group of crows is called a murder, not that it matters, but it fits the theme of the story a bit.

The big list of collective nouns for animals is just a made up thing, sort of like a book of poetry.

There are a small number of ye olde Englishe words for some types of groups (like school of fish) and some of the fanciful names from the book have moved into common usage, but the dramatically expanded version is not known to have ever been actually used

some info here https://www.macquariedictionary.com.au/resources/view/resour...

this is one old source https://archive.org/details/cu31924031031184

So can mouse poop, but it's extraordinarily rare so no one really worries about it, well no one sane. Err present company excluded ;)


It's rare enough that individual cases end up on TV.

I took a wilderness survival course in college that included multiple days in the wilderness for the final. In over 40 years there had only been two deaths. One was dehydration due to a stupid fad diet and the other was hantavirus. It looks like the flu until it's too late. So if you are around mice droppings and get flu like symptoms soon after, get to a doctor soon.

If you are out in the wilderness you are always around rodent droppings. Hantavirus is one of those things that backpacking magazines freak out about, but it's so incredibly rare that there's basically no point in wasting brain cells worrying about it. It's down in the "act of God" ways you might die (meteor strike, lightning, etc...).

Yeah, we were told not to worry too much, just to be wary since someone had died 30 years prior. What I've read is that if you're in an enclosed space with a lot of rodent droppings(say an abandoned cottage or something) then there is some risk, but open air is safe.

> I took a wilderness survival course in college

That's interesting - do you mean as a part of a social club, or actual scholarly study of survival techniques? Or maybe to support a major in something like archeology? Or maybe a military college?

It's not terribly uncommon for colleges to require some form of physical education like in high school. The motivations are varied -- from legal mandate (for state schools) all the way to subsidizing the athletic staff with tuition dollars for BS courses.

And even where there aren't strict requirements, students sometimes end up with a few extra "free" course credits (e.g. to stay full time for a final semester). Uni staff/faculty are often willing to teach a course like this because it's fun and they get a couple grand for teaching young people about their hobby for an hour every week.

FWIW I took a rock climbing course like this (last semester, had a few extra credits my scholarship paid for in any case, and didn't have time for a real course due to travel). There was just enough "scholarly study" to make the course barely legit (read 2 books and discussed safety techniques in a science-y way), but 99.9% of the time was spent climbing.

It was an actual elective class as part of the "Recreation Management" major at my university, but I took it for fun. We talked about and practiced techniques for building fire, shelter, and tools, as well as foraging for food and being wary of physical and mental problems that arise in survival situations. Supposedly back in the day(70s and 80s) it was actually a month long trek out in the wilderness and some students even took it to make up for some sort of probation for misconduct. For our final exam we just had three nights, two of them alone, out in the Utah desert. Our teacher was a Native American, former Army Ranger who had been doing bushcraft since a very young age.

I don't think any universities in the UK do these kind of diverse elective courses. Sometimes you can do one or two courses from outside your major, but they're courses from another major rather than something entirely standalone. Is this what is meant by a 'liberal arts' education?

The UK aggressively specialises. I started to specialise towards CS at around 16, and started to drop arts and other subjects then, two years before university, and at university I never took anything outside the CS course (apart from one Latin course, but that was unusual because I could already program).

Hantaviruses and arenaviruses are typical of rodents if I'm not wrong. Rodents are everywhere, so having raccoons shouldn't really make a difference.

Yup, raccoons faeces can spread several problems: Bayliscaris and other roundworms, Leptospira and some viruses. Airborne spreading rabies from faeces is very rare, but some cases were reported with bats in caves, so should be also a veeeery small probability with raccoons.

Droppings from crows and other birds can spread Parrot fever on the other hand.

Sun rays eliminate several of those problems, like Leptospira. Droppings in the garden should be more "clean" than in your attic.

"Baylisascaris infection is caused by a roundworm found in raccoons. This roundworm can infect people as well as a variety of other animals, including dogs. Human infections are rare, but can be severe if the parasites invade the eye (ocular larva migrans), organs (visceral larva migrans) or the brain (neural larva migrans)."

The "mouse virus" is a different thing.

- It seems like a squad of crows could do some real damage to a person

Sorry but you've lost the plot on this one. Seen way to many movies.

Single birds might become territorial when they have young and you might lose a eye. But thats it.

I'd watch less TV/'current affairs'/crows are smart stories if I was you.

Alcohol, tobacco and mental issues.... now those are scarry killers.

I would consider losing an eye real damage to my person.

Apparently you need to watch less movies about blindness being bad...

Losing an eye.... How.

Birds weight so little compared to a human that our eyelids mass is significant on that scale.

The reason birds don't attack people is because a human randomly flailing can outright kill crows by the dozen and evolution selects against suicide.

I'm not arguing crows will attack people, but 'evolution selects against suicide' does not guarantee they don't.

Bees attack people, and they are quite a bit smaller.

Humans in wartime volunteer for suicide missions, too, if they deem the payout for their comrades high enough.

> Humans in wartime volunteer for suicide missions, too, if they deem the payout for their comrades high enough.

Really. Got any reliable sources on that, using a reasonable definition of "voluntary", based on sources other than veteran war stories[0] and film plots? :-)

(a reasonable interpretation of "not voluntary" includes all people who were forced to join the army because it was the only viable career-option for their socio-economic class)

I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it seems highly likely that the perceived frequency of these occurrences must be extremely inflated because it's been in the interest of war propaganda anywhere since forever, to pretend that knowingly volunteering for a suicide mission is not only perfectly sensible, not only extremely noble, but that this is in fact what you already signed up for, so why are you still standing here?

Then there's the question whether this is even relevant in the context of evolution. Soldiers have to be trained and drilled intensively for the explicit purpose of artificially altering their learned instincts which seems to me quite solid evidence of the contrary; that this behaviour is exactly not part of human nature, and that humans by default will not act like this unless you train them to.

You can probably train crows to suicide-attack humans as well.

[0] I realise leaving out this group leaves the data a bit thin on the ground, but given the extreme biases involved, it's useless data. So many stories people would rather not talk about, to name just one bias. Or stories altered after the fact (like they actually drew lots but tell it as voluntary because they are thankful and know it could've been them just as easily).

A decade ago I was driving through a quiet street when a crow limped into the middle directly in line with my tire. I slowed and tried to steer around but the guy seemed intent on limping into his own demise.

Rolling forward at 5 MPH he disappeared under my car only to dart up at the last moment to a telephone line overhead. I looked in my rear-view mirror out of confusion to find that the crows "limp" was in fact a walnut that he was aligning with my tire for me to crack.

Corvids are smarter than I can understand.

They're smarter nowadays; they place the nut on zebra crossings with traffic lights, and wait for the light to turn green (possible using 'pedestrians cross the road' as a clue) before hopping onto the road (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGPGknpq3e0)

In this area there weren't any traffic controls. The level of planning and understanding that corvids demonstrate in most tasks exceeds anything I've seen from even the smartest of dogs.

I wish I could know what they were thinking.

>>They went so berserk that I thought for sure they would swoop down and peck at me like Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds", but they didn't.

You got lucky. Here in India, crows get electrified all the time and if you try to clean up a good set of crows will peck on you.

And trust me I've been pecked once and it hurts real bad, some times it rough enough to make a person bleed.

Would it be unreasonable to go at them with a cricket bat if they dive bomb you? Not out of aggression, but self defense.

Once I was picked on by crows in my neighborhood. A few birds would swoop down and tried to / made a show of pecking me on the head. I picked up fallen twigs about the size of walking sticks which I swung above my head like a helicopter's rotors. Did that a few times and the birds stopped bothering me.

The attacks started after I walked past a crow on the ground that was apparently injured or something. Once I _made eye contact_ (!) with that crow, the others up in the tree went beserk and started the attacks.

That doesn't sound anything like self defense.

If they are trying to peck you, how is it not self defense?!

It's entirely unnecessary cruelty. Taking a weapon with you so you can retaliate after you provoke an attack isn't a defensive strategy.

Cleaning up bird corpses near human habitation habitat isn't necessary? You have curious ideas of what's necessary.

That's a ridiculous interpretation of what I said. Nobody I know has ever had to bludgeon an animal to clean their yard, not even the person whose story spawned this whole thread.

> I was already aware of the studies showing that crows recognize individual people and can bear grudges for years. I was afraid that's what I was going to end up with, but after that event, they never bothered me again, and I see crows around my house frequently.

This happened about a month ago, right? I think it's far too early to conclude they don't bear a grudge. Those crows you see around your hours are probably surveilling your habits and movements, so they can plan your demise.

It's no coincidence that the collective noun for a group of crows is "murder".


Maybe it's because you interfered with the crow's burial ceremony.

Be sure to dispose of your Bruno Maglis elsewhere. Thankfully they're not shiny.

Crows, mice, and dolphins perhaps.

surely the crowd would have calmed down if you buried the poor pal. but instead you threw it into the trash can. come on...

Burying our dead is a primarily western culture tradition. Many other cultures prefer cremation for example. Why would the birds care how you dispose of the body?

It's possible the birds knew OP wasn't the killer and were hoping to intimidate them into leaving the body alone in hopes of catching the real killer, but that's just a guess.

Hmmmm, humans have buried our dead since at least the times of the ancient Egyptians, and likely long before that.

> It's possible the birds knew OP wasn't the killer and were hoping to intimidate them into leaving the body alone in hopes of catching the real killer,

Or the birds remembered the real killer of their fellow crow but then OP showed up and so therefore, ipso facto, he must've killed the crow but they couldn't know both couldn't kill the crow because they are birds so shriek.

So fascinating!

There is a young girl in Seattle who made friends with the local crows by feeding them, they soon were bringing her regular gifts in exchange for her snacks - http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31604026

I tried to do the same thing in my backyard for about three weeks until one day my wife caught me putting little pieces of bread on our porch railing. She asked what I was doing and I explained making friends with the crows (what else?!). She asked me to stop so I did.

My only hope is that they attack her now and not me, with some level of understanding that she was the one who ruined all the fun...

Your hope may just come true. Crows are extremely intelligent and they live quite a long time. When I was a kid I went on a vacation with my family to a cabin by a lake. A man living in the neighborhood had a pet crow. The crow would get cosy around our dining table that was outside trying to grab some food, so my mother chased it away once. After that for the next 2 weeks we stayed there the crow would fly over every day and take a shit on my mother's laundry. There were 5 people in the family, but the crow would somehow always pick my mother's clothes. This is a true story.

To put the story you linked in context, it's less "little girl feeds a couple of crows" and more "large scale feeding operation" that pisses of the neighbors: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Neighbors-sue-to-stop...

Not enough data to draw a firm conclusion from here, but I've heard enough stories of busybody neighbors to be suspicious of anyone who comes in claiming that bird poop has caused $200,000 worth of property damage. You'd expect the whole neighborhood to be leveled every time a starling migration comes through.

I'm not sure if it's ever happened in the Pacific Northwest, but bird poop can contaminate areas with a pathogen that persists in the soil and causes a tuberculosis-like lung disease. I think there was even a town in the Midwest that had to be abandoned because of it. Bird poop is also a vector for various parasites that can harm you and your pets. (Plus it's gross.)

Edit: It's called "histoplasmosis".

Apparently there are a lot of rogue forces that can completely ruin a town. See Centralia, Peshtigo, Dust Bowl, Lake Peigneur, etc.

Well, that's one interpretation, and the city and health department have made statements disagreeing with it. We'll see what the courts say eventually, it's scheduled to go to trial in August 2016. http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Crow-feeding-Seattle-...

I think this says a lot : "A petition signed by 51 neighbors filed a petition with the city of Seattle failed to prompt action."

The problem I see with "little girl feeds a couple of crows" is that the "couple of crows" will inevitably grow to a larger number...

... and then, in all likelihood, a murder.

:) I've written about my encounters with hooded crows on Hacker News in this comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11540261

Which type of nuts and seeds did you use?

Mostly cashew, but they love peanuts in the shell and instinctively knew what it was and how to open them.

Perhaps you can change her mind with this:


I normally wouldn't add this useless comment, but this made my wife just about wet herself laughing.

If you are going to feed wild birds nuts and seeds is a more appropriate food to put out for them than bread.

That bringing back the lost lens cap is kind of amazing. I'd like to see that video.

I believe ravens and crows are very similar, this is a personal (long, and not the great) story about a raven I messed around with in Yosemite National Park:

When I was up on north dome (not to be confused with half dome) there was a group of raven's hanging out on the rocks watching us eat our late lunch. I had an apple core that I tossed to the side and watched as a raven warily tried to approach it. I walked over and grabbed the apple core before the raven could grab it so I could entertain myself teasing the raven for a bit before we started down the mountain. I started by putting my arm back ready to throw the apple and as I did that I noticed the raven kneel a bit as if getting ready to launch itself. I thought this was interesting as it showed it was anticipating me throwing the object based on my arm motion. As I relaxed my arm the bird also relaxed.

I tried grabbing a rock and again watched it brace itself to launch from the rock then tried switching the apple core and the rock behind my back and tossing the rock hoping the bird would dart after it thinking it was the core. The bird didn't do as I expected and instead just watched me carefully never motioning for the rocks.

I tore a piece of the apple from the core behind my back and tossed it just as I had with the rocks and before the piece of apple even left my hand the raven leaped from the rock in its direction.

This blew my mind. Not sure how the raven knew it was a chunk of apple and not a rock.

I messed around with that particular raven for a good 10-15 minutes tossing various things in its direction, testing its reactions and trying to mess with its little raven mind. All I managed to do however was be impressed at its level of experience in dealing with Yosemite tourists such as myself.

> and trying to mess with its little raven mind

don't you get that it was the raven that was playing with your little human mind ? ;-)

touche raven, touche. At one moment I had the impression I was annoying the raven.

You realize you're not supposed to toss around garbage in the national park?

Here's a different perspective, which I will admit in advance is kind of ridiculous, but it makes me think...

Why are humans not considered to be a part of nature? I think it’s because we consider ourselves to be more intelligent than other animals/organisms and therefore assume it to be our responsibility to actively protect nature. However, this is based on our own moral standards, which were created by us, likely as a result of our ability to empathize.

A human eating an apple and discarding the core seems pretty natural to me (though it’s not, by definition). If this has an impact on the wildlife population, then perhaps it was “meant to be”.

Going out of our way to preserve nature seems more unnatural. Nature should have no expectation of our intelligence, so perhaps the human-caused destruction of the world is itself natural.

Then again, perhaps our increased intelligence is natural, so going out of our way to preserve nature is natural.

As you can see, I basically have no point here. It’s just an interesting thought train that I felt like expressing.

Of course, this argument could be extended to just about anything that a human does, including pumping oil directly into the ocean, which is why I’m not actually trying to argue this point.

I guess what I am saying is that if humans are left unregulated, nature seems to find a way to restore sanity. An example of this is the over prescription of antibiotics which has led to a decrease in their overall effectiveness. It seems like nature will always win in the end.

Sure, throwing one apple core seems pretty natural. But a national park is full of visitors every day. If it isn't a strict policy not to throw trash and food where animals can scavenge it, they learn to expect and rely on it. This brings them in more frequent contact. With crows that's no big deal, perhaps an annoyance to visitors at worst. But other animals can be much more dangerous. Keeping a healthy fear of people in animals (and honestly of animals in people) is incredibly important.

The most extreme example of this is trash feeding bears in Yellowstone up until 1970. Humans naturally ate at hotels which naturally tossed their trash into giant piles nearby. Bears naturally came looking for all that food they smelled and naturally ate it. The humans then naturally started watching and the park naturally made that easier by putting up grandstands around the trash heaps.

Eventually a new Yellowstone park chief saw the ridiculousness and danger of this and stopped it. It then took a while for the bears to adapt their behavior back to their actual natural behavior without such a rich food source.


Unregulated humans have lead to the extinction of hundreds (thousands?) of species. Largely by hunting, but also unintentionally by destroying habitats. It's also a safety hazard: when you feed wild animals, they learn to associate humans with food and are more willing to approach humans, which places humans in danger. Aside from animal welfare, garbage is just disgusting. If one person sees an apple core, perhaps they'll assume it's OK to leave their Doritos bag, and someone else a beer bottle, and now the area is spoiled for everyone. Not to mention health hazards for both humans and animals from rotting food.

> If one person sees an apple core, perhaps they'll assume it's OK to leave their Doritos bag

Let me nuance that a little bit: They don't actually believe it's OK, they're really just lazy and inconsiderate. If they were actually unaware of the difference between food and plastic packaging, the problem would be solving itself.

Well, we're talking about a National Park. Which is a part of nature we explicitly try to keep unaffected by humans as much as possible. So elsewhere you may have an argument, but in this case any visitor influence on nature is bad.

I disagree. Discarding the core is unnatural. The only part of an apple that I discard is the stem.

I also ensure that I do not crush all of the seeds with my teeth, thus honoring "the deal" between fruit-bearing plants and animals (even though sewage treatment plants may be involved after the fact).

I draw the line at plums, though. Those are pretty much the largest fruit seeds that I will swallow whole. Peaches, you're out of luck.

But when you put toilets and sewers in the equation, tossing the seed-bearing portion of a fruit to another animal is probably the most natural thing you can do. The animal receiving the food has no cause to object. The plant that bore the fruit has no cause to object (unless it is seedless). And the only reason a human might object is if it somehow upsets the environmental equilibrium, such as if 10000 humans are all throwing their uneaten apple cores in the same place.

...like tourists at a national park.

When you're in a "natural" area that somehow gets a lot of human activity anyway, you're actually better off burning your garbage, and either packing out the ash if local soil is basic, or spreading it and peeing on it if the local soil is acidic.

Do you realize that plums and peaches and apples are all likely to be happy just to be carried off and dropped?

You don't have to eat freaking pits out of fruit.

That's not true. It depends on the plant species, but some seeds require physical or chemical abrasion of the seed coat before germination can occur. Some fruits have germination-inhibiting plant hormones in the fruit flesh, and cannot sprout until that is either digested or rotted away.

Some seeds require seasonal cycles of cold and hot, but that doesn't involve animals except insofar as they may cause the climate to shift.

That's not really why I swallow the seeds. I do it because it makes less of a mess to clean up after a meal or snack. Someone else might have to walk their apple core to a garbage can, and worry about whether it will rot and stink in there. I just put the stem on my desk and throw it in the landscaping mulch later.

National parks want to maintain nature in a certain pre-tech-influence state. Don't over-philosophize it.

People were philosophizing long before tech-influence. Technology was absent from the thought train too.

Are you saying they had thought trains before there were trains?

Biodegradable apple cores that he was feeding to birds? I think that hardly qualifies.

Well, ideally "leave no trace" and "don't mess with wildlife" are adhered to when in nature

edit: it's also illegal in national parks, carrying up to a $5000 fine and six months in jail

Yes, I have spent a lot of time out in nature and parks, and I generally am aware of not leaving a trace or litter. However, with something like a banana peel, I'd rather it end up as tree food the in a landfill, so I usually toss them in bushes.

The issue is that leaving food for the animals alters their behavior and can cause issues. You're probably not the worst offender wherever you are, as there are many people who just give food to animals, but the argument would be that it contributes to the problem.

Actually banana peels and orange peels don't biodegrade that fast in a north American forest.

Apple cores I think might not be too bad to toss, ants can eat that up in a day or two.

I pack out the peels of any tropical fruit.

Please don't do that with banana or orange peels, they remain present for a long time. I have no problem personally with people tossing apple cores in more remote, little-visited areas (though it still makes sense to crack down on such things a bit more in heavily visited areas like National Parks) but various peels don't rot well and remain in place.

I'm not sure about Yosemite or even nature in the US so maybe this wouldn't be an issue, but even biodegradable things like apple cores or egg shells can spread diseases to local populations of trees or birds. That's a real thing to take into account in natural parks with endemic species at least.

Huh. I didn't know. Do you have a link on that?

I don't have a link though, it's just something that was been repeated at length by the Natural Reserve agents and the ecobiologists to the personnel and visitors while I was on Kerguelen island (precisely about apple cores and egg shells - most of the vegetation is actually in the same Rosaceae family as apple trees, and there are many local bird species).

It makes sense to me, seeing how a single disease like chestnut blight or phylloxera can be very devastating to a population on a whole continent, it could be both as bad but also less noticeable in a natural park.

In the very least it's unsightly. Thousands of people go to Yosemite, imagine if every one of them dropped food debris along the trail.

Well, there are seeds in it...

It was an apple grown in one of the 3 orchards around Yosemite purchased from the store in the valley. It was a native apple.

Also, I don't consider biodegradable native fruits to be trash. People argue the birds will choke on seeds or something which is absurd. I hike in Yosemite dozens of times a year and I can't recall ever seeing so much as banana peel and I know people are tossing those on the ground everywhere.

Boy, there's one in every thread, huh?

> I believe ravens and crows are very similar,

Have to ask - read only the article title?

I'm in love with your writing style.

What most people don't realize is that most live forms lower on the chain can read our minds. So if the crow's reaction was different based on what you wanted to throw, it's because it knew what you wanted to do before you did it.

It was reading your thoughts.

Dogs and cats do it too.

A few years ago I went to a farm to buy a goat. The younger goats did not know why I was there, but when an older goat saw me and our eyes met, it knew, and took off.

Okay, so these are the kinds of things that definitely need a citation ;)

In what sense do you mean reading minds? Genuine mind reading, or basically a kind of intuiting about human intention based on say, body language?

Not OP, and I am not talking about mind-reading.

But we have domesticated dogs for a long time, and some might argue that they are a lot better and quicker to pick up on our body language, than we are at picking up on theirs.

Dog Behaviorists spend a lot of their not training dogs, but training dog owners to understand and read their dog.

> In what sense do you mean reading minds? Genuine mind reading, or basically a kind of intuiting about human intention based on say, body language?

And by "genuine", he means "magical" ... :-)

Intuiting is pretty well described in the case of the Clever Hans horse (googleable).

Sorry, no citation. Just my personal knowledge and experience.

And it's not just reading body language, but actual reading your thoughts. In the case of the crow, what body language tells it that the guy is about to throw a piece of rock or a bone when it can't SEE the object?

I know it's not something I can prove to you, but that doesn't mean it's not happening.

>I know it's not something I can prove to you, but that doesn't mean it's not happening.

Come on man.

>what body language tells it that the guy is about to throw a piece of rock or a bone when it can't SEE the object?

Tons of things, from being able to understand body cues that the guy is up to some BS (like we can tell a liar), to smelling the thing he has in his hands...

Plus who said it "couldn't see the thing" in the first place? Even if it couldn't see what in his hand, it could have watched his moves before, as he left the apple and picked up the rock etc.

No, that is pretty much the definition of "not happening".

Smaller animals are incredibly faster than humans in reaction times because of the difference in the length of their nerves. Birds are also far smarter than people give them credit for. Nothing can read minds tho. That's pure fantasy.

I'm just curious what your thought process is. I mean, what makes you think something so wacky as reading minds is happening (come on..) when the explanation is probably just that the birds have quick reflexes.

>A few years ago I went to a farm to buy a goat. The younger goats did not know why I was there, but when an older goat saw me and our eyes met, it knew, and took off.

It could have took off for 100000 reasons, non of which end being "because it read your mind".

For example: it got scared, it did it randomly, is afraid of strangers because it had some bad experience, etc...

The most "advanced" behaviour I'd attribute that to would be possibly having recognised that when strangers come, other goats disappear and don't come back.

But I'd expect it to be more likely to just be one of your simpler suggestions.

It's just bizarre to attribute it to mind reading, when we'd apply far more mundane reasons if we saw the same behaviour in people.

Don't downvote, it's true. Animals can read your thoughts. The mechanism seems to be that they can see your visualizations: I can call my sister's cat in from outside "telepathically" by clearly "seeing" in my mind's eye the cat walking in the back door and "sending" the imagery to him.

Sometimes the if the back door is closed and I'm not distracted by computer or something he "calls" me to open the door. Subjectively, I get this subtle "ping" that feels like "I should open the door for the cat" so I do and he's there waiting.

This sort of thing is pretty easy to develop. It's innate, you're already doing it, you just have to learn to pay attention and calibrate.

> Sometimes the if the back door is closed and I'm not distracted by computer or something he "calls" me to open the door. Subjectively, I get this subtle "ping" that feels like "I should open the door for the cat" so I do and he's there waiting.

I've experienced similar things, as I have both small children and a very fat cat that doesn't like to jump over our toddler gate. I've been playing games with headphones on in an entirely separate room and suddenly felt that the cat wanted me to go open the gate. Sure enough, when I got there, he was waiting by the gate.

That said... I don't attribute this to telepathy. Animals get on schedules after a while, and perhaps it's likely that I merely intuited that the cat was very likely to want to go through the gate at that specific time.

It's like that episode of the Office where they put an increasing number of nickels in Dwight's phone handset over a long period, then take them out all at once and he smacks himself in the face with it - we humans often exhibit behaviors that are primarily driven by unconscious stimuli.

>Don't downvote, it's true. Animals can read your thoughts. The mechanism seems to be that they can see your visualizations: I can call my sister's cat in from outside "telepathically" by clearly "seeing" in my mind's eye the cat walking in the back door and "sending" the imagery to him.

Unsubstantiated nonsense. Your perception that this is a real phenomena is not evidence that it actually exists.

So you're saying the cat is Branning your Hodor? :p

No, I'm sorry, you got this wrong. When you do that, you are not "calling" the cat, you are effectively controlling it with your mind eye. You need to be very careful with that, doing it long term can result in damage to the cat.

I am picturing in my mind's eye someone beating you on the dome of your skull with an oversized elementary science textbook.

It is not generally useful to say someone else is "wrong" about their religion or superstitions, unless you have statistically significant data from a controlled, reproducible experiment that contradicts their implied hypothesis. Without the support of facts, you're just in a pissing contest over who writes the best fiction.

If you're going to talk about this on HN, in terms of correct or incorrect, you're going to need to show the differences in medical scanner images between cats that have been continually mind-controlled by psychic humans over their entire lifespans and control cats with similar breeds and ages.

Because of that, I'm not going to say that your hypothesis is wrong, as it remains untested, but I will say that it is so implausible that any research experiment intended to test it is very unlikely to get public funding.

> I am picturing in my mind's eye someone beating you on the dome of your skull with an oversized elementary science textbook.

Yeah well that's not going to work, obviously. You can't have both elementary science textbooks and mind-projecting them through a non-physical mystical plane of existence.

And even if it could be done, it'd be highly unethical. Imagine a non-corporeal entity finding out they've been violating physical conservation laws during their whole existence.

I don't know what to say other than I'm sad when I see reddit-ish comment chains like this on HN. Someday I'll be a big kid and be able to downvote, but in the mean time I shake my head.

I've not seen KenM show up yet, but it's just a matter of time.

Okay let's get one part straight here. I don't believe any of this bullshit but I'm pretty sure I know a lot more about it than whatever you're making up right now.

The "mind's eye" is strictly input-only. Associated image of a silver mirror (or the Moon or my favourite, the pineal gland), which carries a reflection of the realm(s) of the Gods (or Godlike), which are beyond comprehension of mortal Man yadda-yadda etc, you can only witness the reflected image, which can be a divine/true vision or a false vision/hallucination (or a meaningless vision, or any combination thereof). Hence why the moon is associated with insanity.

I like reading about these kinds of things for fun, and because it has some weird and twisted yet surprisingly consistent logic to it (by which I mean, not very consistent but still surprisingly so). I've never read anything (outside the explicitly fictional) about it being hurtful to cats, though. And somehow I doubt you'd be able to provide me with a source either :)

I understand your concern. I am very careful. Ahimsa and non-coercion are primary to my nature. <3 ;-D

The cat will "blow me off" sometimes if he's stalking or napping and doesn't want to come in.

I've been very involved with the carrion crows near my house. I feed them with peanuts. At first they wouldn't even come near the food. Now they salute, ask for food, do fly bys and they get extremely close to me. I have observed them long hours.

What most amazes me is how they communicate. They group and start talking complex things using low volume sounds. Maybe they discuss how to stash my peanuts, or what side they will use to approach me, or who will stay back and watch for dangers.

They also do long distance talking. At the mornings mainly, the group will remain silent while a designated one will song loud. You can hear distant groups responding. Sometimes this long distance chat start group movements to where I can't follow them.

Crow are intelligent, amazing animals. I encourage everyone to look at them more often, they do look at us all the time.

This whole article is pretty interesting, but the last paragraph is worth quoting:

For instance, in 2008 Marzluff had researchers in caveman masks capture crows while others in a control mask—Dick Cheney—let the birds be. Afterward the birds ignored the harmless Cheneys but scolded and chased the cavemen, and did so for years.

Poor birds! Probably thought they could trust a Crow-Magnon.

Dick Cheney masks! Probably thought they could trust a Crow-Magnon. I have faith in the world again.

Seems like crows are prime for weaponization (maybe expressing my inner Dick Cheney here). Just don a mask and attack a few crows near your target, leaving some witnesses.

Has it ever been done before? A quick Google search didn't uncover anything.

Sound like high risk for low reward, even if they don't figure out that the other people aren't involved which they might.

At first I thought you ment like this: http://cyberneticzoo.com/bionics/1940-project-pigeon-1948-pr...

Hilarious! Reminded me of https://archive.google.com/pigeonrank/

If you find this interesting, you should really look into the intelligence of crows. They've been observed to remember human faces, wait on traffic lights, plan, and a whole bunch of things that are very impressive.

And don't even get me started on _jackdaws_.

They've even learned to pick up coins and use them in a vending machine in exchange for rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qSsVBPh9Lo

I even remember reading that they were trained to pick up trash in exchange for food.

Corvids (crows, ravens, magpies, jackdaws) are pretty bright. Some of them also have quite a bit of voice control. Like parrots, they can speak human words if trained.


Crows definitely have good voice control. A local nature preserve and wildlife rehab center here has a couple of captive American crows (they can't be returned to the wild because of injuries). They mimic human voices very well. One of frequently says "American crow".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbRS9K4rZ8Y :)

PS: I think that crow actually said "thank you"?

This Raven speaking Finnish is pretty cool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOVYMQP7gMM

A raven, speaking Finnish? Sounds like a bad omen!

Is there any evidence this isn't fake?

He does sound a little like a voice synthesiser, but I think that's mostly because both birds and computers speak English poorly. Here's another example: https://youtu.be/AfsnHVaScjg

Re: voice synth, I think that's just an artifact of how birds vocal chords (or whatever gizmo they've got in there) work. The timbre of the voice is going to be different than that of a primate.

EDIT: you can even hear it in their natural calls, they have a buzzing, saw-like texture in the upper-mid and high range.

I think he sounds like a voice synthesizer because the owner probably "trained" the raven to say nevermore by letting a computer program repeat that word occasionally over long periods of time. Thus he learned to mimic the synthesizer sound, not a real human saying it. You can also hear the bird repeat some notification sounds a "waka waka" sound that sounds like Pacman.

I understand that Raven's can vocalize, I am just skeptical of that original video you linked. I am just wondering if there was evidence that it was authentic since that Youtube user's videos seem to go so far beyond what I've seen Raven's do before.

The Australian lyrebird is perhaps the best bird mimic:


Why are you assuming it's fake? "Crows and ravens can imitate human voices" is an established fact, not an unusual claim.

I am skeptical of the specific video he linked, not of the well established fact that Raven's can vocalize.

Quoth the raven "nevermore".

Cycling to work one day and while stopped at some lights at a major Dublin intersection I noticed a crow drop a half eaten apple just ahead of the stop line.

Looking back after the lights turned green I could see the apple had been crushed by a car and the crow was gobbling up the delicious juicy apple mush.

In Japan they use traffic lights to collect cracked nuts


I used to have a really awesome "symbiosis" with a flock of crows. For four years, while going to work, I passed every day down a desolate black road, near a walnut tree. At first, I'd grab the walnuts from the ground and crows'd get angry and even dive-bomb me. However, as time passed by, we started understanding each other - when they see me coming, they'd drop walnuts on the ground and wait for me to smash their shells open. As a reward for my effort, they won't mind me grabbing a few walnuts for myself.

Theres a youtube clip of a crow solving a puzzle that little children struggle with - cant find it now as at work but dont think it would be hard to find for anyone interested

This is not nearly as complex a sequence, but has a bit of tool making. Specifically, bending a wire into a hook to retrieve food:


That is fascinating. But notice that the researcher makes an elementary mistake: he failed to screen himself from the bird's sight.

>And don't even get me started on _jackdaws_

Top level trolling

Hmm, I found it a rather distracting inside joke. I can happily live without reading Reddit memes in this forum.

For last 2 years, I am suffering from depression. I decided to isolate myself, which I knew was wrong. My parents were worried about my situation since I am living with them. I live in a village where this sort of behavior is condemned, and people are very hardworking(they are either farmers, fishermen, construction workers/helpers). What I noticed was, whenever I go outside of my house a bunch of crows will gather around and caw at me, until I disappear from their site. But they wont follow me in the streets. Some times more than 30 crows will gather near the trees, and kinda shout at me. (I always felt like they were yelling at me, to get a life :) )

So I decided to give a try to get more disciplined. From past to months I wake up at 5 am for gym, and have a routine life. Now none of the crows notice me :).

My explanation: These crows can sense how people live and behave. And they found out I was very odd in the community. :) :)

An alternate explanation: The crows were cawing encouragements :)

The image of the researcher wearing a mask and holding a dead crow is absolutely terrifying:


Looks like something straight out of True Detective

So here's a story for the books. I live in Sri Lanka and we have massive numbers of crows always flying around in the urban areas causing quite the racket too. They are exceptionally intelligent and have been witnessed hitching bus rides regularly from one town to another. But the story I have happened at a school water polo match.

The location the match was being played at had a standard pool and a shallow junior pool right next to each other. During the match a wild attempt to score a goal missed the side and the ball smashed full force into a crow who was drinking water from the junior pool. This of course resulted in the poor crow's death. But what was amazing was that within a few minutes, every other crow in the vicinity had surrounded the dying crow and then decided that they would attack the spectators and the players. We had to clear the entire stadium and pool for a good half an hour till they allowed us to return (although they left their dead comrade behind who had to be cleared away by a hapless cleaning staff member).

One less impressive story but still relevant to the article. We had an antique air rifle at home that needed repairs. My uncle who did such repairs said he'd come along and look into it. That evening there were plenty of crows around as usual. Most of them were in the trees two houses away. I assume these were crows who had forever lived in urban areas and probably never been shot at let alone seen a gun. They've lived through plenty of fireworks and don't seem all that bothered by them whenever they do go off. But when I brought the gun out to show to my uncle, the ruckus caused was utterly deafening. And just like that, silence. Every single crow had scattered from the area. How they recognised an object like that and so instantly is a question and memory that has stuck around with me forever.

Amazing creatures who annoy me with their never ending din and tendencies to somehow make a mess of any garbage bag left out in the open, but they'll always have my absolute respect for their intelligence.

    > I assume these were crows who had forever lived
    > in urban areas and probably never been shot at
    > let alone seen a gun.
Easy explanation for this that's probably correct:

- Your assumption that crows don't range outside the urban area is false.

- It would have only taken one crow in the group to be familiar with a gun

- That single individual recognizing it and flying off in a panic triggers the rest to fly off, a behavior typical of herd/flock animals.

My assumption might be false. It doesn't necessarily have to be false. Our urban area is fairly large.

I agree it would take just one crow to be familiar with a gun. But at the same time, there was no displaying of the gun. The crows weren't in the immediate vicinity. They were mostly on the trees two houses away. The recognition that I had brought out a dangerous object took just a few seconds from the moment I stepped through the door. Even if my assumption is wrong about their past, the fact that some crow(s) took the sight of the gun in so quickly is still pretty darn amazing

Birds can see small objects from very far distances. Small objects from a mile or more. An eagle for example can be nearly out of your range of sight but can easily see rodents. Once the crows saw the object they would raise an alarm which is why the whole group squawked and left.

Are there large urban areas that don't have large numbers of air rifles? Likewise, are there young people who, upon acquiring an air rifle, don't immediately shoot at birds with it?

Both scenarios are implausibly contrary to my experience.

I vaguely remember reading about a study where a person walked out into a cornfield that was frequented by crows every morning. Every day he'd carry a loaded rifle, but on some mornings the rifle would be internally disabled.

Although there was no way to tell visually if the rifle was capable of firing or not, the crows would immediately disperse on days when it was, and would ignore the man on days when it wasn't.

The assumption was that they based their reaction on unconscious body language, which seems rational enough.

Did the study involve a control, in which the man himself wouldn't be aware if the gun could be fired?

There are many silly side channels that could have been used by the crows (related e.g. to preparing the gun to be disabled or enabled).

I honestly don't recall, sorry :( I read about it many years ago.

Fascinating study. It really triggers questions around how animals' memory work - short term vs long-term, trauma vs joy, etc. I have a 2-year French shepherd (Beauceron) who, while being smart, has a very limited long-term memory. I am almost convinced that he cannot make the difference between waiting for me 5 minutes and 5 hours. At the same time, his trauma or joy memory works incredibly well: he perfectly remembers people he only saw 2/3 times when he was 2 months or objects that hurt him. I always feel like animals are trapped between an absolute lack of time and space consciousness and an incredibly sharp conscious of feeling

What you are talking about are two different things: memories, and sense of time. Most things aside humans, as much as I'm aware of, live in the here and now. So 5 minutes and 5 hours do not make a difference when waiting for something that is NOT here NOW.

Alas, humans are different. And thus we suffer.

Mockingbirds also remember faces. They will attack if they think you are a predator. I had one who decided my daily walk was a threat - maybe I walked too close to its nest - and came straight at my face. Scary as hell. That bird then swooped to attack every time I went outdoors. To Kill a Mockingbird indeed.

Magpies as well. They aim for the face/eyes. Usually if you come too close to their nest.

So is the full collective noun "A Murder Investigation of Crows"?

A murder of crows investigating a murder of crow.

Murder Murder Murder Investigation

My wife and I picked up a seemingly injured young crow from our yard before the neighborhood cats (or buses) found it, and we took it to a local wounded bird shelter. The crow's family(?) crowed incessantly whenever we walked outside for a few months afterward. They would even start when we were several blocks away, coming home from farther out, and would follow us to our door. (The young crow apparently had a head injury, and we never heard back from the place on its recovery.)

A couple of years ago, near dusk, I heard a hell of a bird ruckus and went out to the front porch to have a look. What I saw blew me away: a young coyote was making haste down the middle of the street, ears down and tail between its legs being pursued by a very noisy aggressive murder of crows. They literally chased him out of the neighborhood.

This can happen to people as well. I've heard stories about people throwing rocks at ravens in parks, where the ravens at later events responded by crapping on the person from up high, or throwing small rocks and twigs on him as they flew by.

Never forgive, never forget.

Quote from the Quran 5:31 [1] "Then Allah sent a crow, who scratched the ground, to show him how to hide the dead body of his brother. 'Woe to me!' said he. 'Was I not even able to be as this raven, and to hide the shame of my brother?' Then he became full of regrets."

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cain_and_Abel_in_Islam

This may sound weird, but in the country (rural Virginia) we already kind of knew this.

If you had a farm and crows get in your crops, the solution was to shoot a crow and leave it. The rest of the crows would stay and circle, but they would leave the crops alone.

* Not advocating violence against animals. Just sharing that tidbit.

Yep. I was taught that if you wanted to shoot crows, to do it away from your house - because they are vindictive little creatures and don't forget.

Oh I thought that made an easy target!

On my way to work one morning I came across a raven funeral. I didn't know that's what it was at the time. All the ravens (Australian) were gathered broadly in a disk amongst the trees, there were about 20 of them, all quiet and quite still. I had a choice of routes, either through them or around them to the right, I chose the latter as I didn't want to disturb whatever they were doing.

Crows also seem to be doing analogies http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/crows-understand-a...

Douglas Hofstadter says that thinking is all about making analogies, so that is all pretty remarkable.


To be fair, I also have unfavorable reactions when faced with mask-wearing people holding dead crows. ;)

The notorious Doritos shop lifting sea gull of Aberdeen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqy9hxhUxK0 And another in South Shield, who favours Greggs - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4QXyUjQCgE

Scientists? Or WITCHES!?!?!?

Seriously though, the human behavior study on this is as fascinating as the animal one, and would be really hard to explain in a Salem courthouse.

And the picture of the masked scientist holding a dead crow? Add that to the library of images that my subconscious will use to manufacture nightmares.

Edgar Allen Poe would be proud if he could see this masterpiece of creepiness.

My dog has been on a killing spree this summer, sometimes catching 2 birds in a week :(.

It's amazing how the birds react when she catches one. They all go nuts, and more fly in and start squawking.

I worry they'll call in a hawk to carry her away lol.

Growing up, I had a cat who got attacked by a hawk. He came running in one day with deep talon scratches on his back.

My mom took him to the vet, who cleaned up the wounds and said that it was probably a juvenile who was overconfident in what he could grab. An adult wouldn't have tried.

The mental image of this teenager hawk swooping down, grabbing a fatass 15-pound cat, and struggling to pick it up while Mom looks down and shakes her head makes me smile.

I've seen an adult hawk predate a small dog before. The dog was likely killed by the impact of the hawk, though I couldn't be sure because the hawk carried the limp body away before the owner could take any action.

Here's another example:


I heard some squawking in the yard, and went out to investigate. My cat had caught a young robin. There was a pair of robins, a pair of bluejays and a pair of crows all squawking, divebombing and generally harassing my cat. The robins and jays eventually went off somewhere else, but the crows carried on harrassing my cat for years. They would leave for the winter and come back the next year to make my cat's life miserable whenever they saw it. Over a dead bird of different species.

>My dog has been on a killing spree this summer, sometimes catching 2 birds in a week :(.

usually dog tags on the collar is enough. Otherwise, have you ever thought about attaching a small bell to the collar so that it'd warn the birds before the dog catches them?

No, I didn't even think of that. I switched the sprinklers to run at midnight instead of 7-8PM a few days ago, and so far so good. If it happens again I'll give the collar w/ tags a try, thanks.

Hopefully she's learning that she gets a bath and I get grumpy every time it happens too.


this is not reddit, please comment as such.

Holy crap the photo of the volunteer in the mask is terrifying.

Nightmare material right there.

"How to Troll Crows for Fun and Profit"

Probably a ridiculous claim, but I think ants have a ant death detection system too. After being invaded, putting dead ants on the path they used to reach the food drawers made them backtrack immediately and stop using that trail altogether.

They do in fact have a death detection system.


Not ridiculous at all. Ants lay pheromone trails for others to follow; I'd surmise that encountering a dead ant provokes a live one to lay a "danger" trail as it retreats.

"...Afterward the birds ignored the harmless Cheneys" No such a thing as a harmless Dick Cheney.

Indeed. This research is part of Dick Cheney's sinister plot to regain power using an army of crows trained to hate everyone but him...

By the way, when there are crows around, do not stare or point at other birds' nests if you spot any among the tree branches. Crows are very good at reading human gestures. If they see a bunch of humans staring and pointing at something, they will understand that there is something of interest in that direction, and will inevitably find and destroy the nests.

I've always liked this one about the raven and bald eagle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0w9q125TSI

BTW - I once read somewhere that its its illegal to keep native birds (like crows, robins etc).

> Each volunteer was either holding a dead crow, standing near a dead red-tailed hawk—a crow predator—or standing near a dead red-tailed hawk holding the dead crow.

I had to reread this about 5 times to make sense of it. Am I just tired from a long work day or is that a poorly phrase sentence?

holding a dead crow, standing near a dead hawk, or doing both at once.

It's not clear whether the volunteer or the hawk is holding the dead crow in the last case.

Why was I down voted? Read the sentence again. Both meanings are syntactically correct. When I first read the article I took the 3rd case to be that the hawk was holding the dead crow, with the human standing nearby.

I seem to have found a video of a magpie funeral. They're also corvids, like crows and ravens.


I am not an ornithologist, but my first impression is that it isn't a "funeral". Birds do occasionally hit stuff and this seems more like a response to a possibly unconscious bird. Poke it, yell a bunch, maybe it'll come to. When the bird is actually dead the instinctive response is prolonged?

Very interesting. I'd love to know how many calls were made to the local police station reporting people in creepy masks standing around with dead crows.

That mask is super creepy.

That picture is straight out of an indie horror movie.

> For instance, in 2008 Marzluff had researchers in caveman masks capture crows while others in a control mask—Dick Cheney—let the birds be. Afterward the birds ignored the harmless Cheneys but scolded and chased the cavemen, and did so for years.

I feel like they should have swapped the masks around for this one.

Ravens played a role in norse mythology, serving as "shamanic helping spirits" who scout for the god Odin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huginn_and_Muninn

Growing up with a large garden out in the country, we always had a lot of trouble with crows picking newly-sprouted corn. They'd go right along the row and pluck out the seedlings to eat the kernel at the root. At least, they would, until my father would manage to get one with the shotgun and then hang it up from the scarecrow. After that, there wouldn't be a crow in sight for months.

They are smart creatures.

More anecdata - there were a bunch of crows who were harassing my elderly outdoor cat. So I grabbed my BB gun and shot one from my bedroom window. The two other companions flew off, but when I went to go dispose of the body, 6 more birds flew over to see what I was doing. Cawing at me the whole time.

I didn't want to kill the damn thing. But, our whole street was crow free for at least 2 years.

Gulls behave similarly, being 'attracted' to predators that have caught a gull and circling in order to learn about their behaviour.


I saw a crow get hit by a car right in front of me with a thump because it moved too slow from a mid street meal. Instantly probably 6 or so crows started shrieking and came over to the incident. It was quite sad because it seemed they could tell that something terrible had happened.

Reminds of this video where a crow and a feral kitten are friends. The crow even feeds the kitten!


I've rescued several injured crows and every time I've been followed closely by at least two other crows as I brought the crow to my car. Amazingly intelligent and social creatures.

Are there any academics here who could shed light on who is considered more intelligent - a Crow or a Raven?

I am aware Ravens are known to mimic sounds more than Crows, unless I am mistaken.

Reminds me of this video:

Epic Cat Fight w/ Two Birds


So, does this mean we should change the collective noun to "a murder-investigation of crows"?

I see you liked the article I linked on reddit yesterday :D

Gives new meaning to the word "scarecrow"

...for the watch

Murders investigating murders.

That pun at the end.

It should have 2015 in name.

Not sure why you are getting downvoted, the article is indeed dated Oct. 2015. See the URL and/or do a search in Google News.

Yes. Added.

In some regions, they also burn the body to make sure they don't come back from the dead.

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