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.
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.
When they show up and start settings up, the crows swarm them and poop everywhere. It's pretty crazy.
* 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.
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 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.
A group of crows is called a murder, not that it matters, but it fits the theme of the story a bit.
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
It's rare enough that individual cases end up on TV.
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?
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.
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).
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.
The "mouse virus" is a different thing.
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.
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.
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.
Really. Got any reliable sources on that, using a reasonable definition of "voluntary", based on sources other than veteran war stories 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.
 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).
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.
I wish I could know what they were thinking.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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...
Edit: It's called "histoplasmosis".
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.
don't you get that it was the raven that was playing with your little human mind ? ;-)
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.
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.
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.
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.
You don't have to eat freaking pits out of fruit.
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.
edit: it's also illegal in national parks, carrying up to a $5000 fine and six months in jail
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.
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.
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.
Have to ask - read only the article title?
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.
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?
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.
And by "genuine", he means "magical" ... :-)
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.
Come on man.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
Unsubstantiated nonsense. Your perception that this is a real phenomena is not evidence that it actually exists.
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.
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.
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 :)
The cat will "blow me off" sometimes if he's stalking or napping and doesn't want to come in.
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.
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.
Has it ever been done before? A quick Google search didn't uncover anything.
At first I thought you ment like this:
And don't even get me started on _jackdaws_.
PS: I think that crow actually said "thank you"?
EDIT: you can even hear it in their natural calls, they have a buzzing, saw-like texture in the upper-mid and high range.
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.
Top level trolling
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. :) :)
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.
- 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.
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
Both scenarios are implausibly contrary to my experience.
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.
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).
Alas, humans are different. And thus we suffer.
Never forgive, never forget.
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.
Douglas Hofstadter says that thinking is all about making analogies, so that is all pretty remarkable.
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.
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.
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.
Here's another example:
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?
Hopefully she's learning that she gets a bath and I get grumpy every time it happens too.
BTW - I once read somewhere that its its illegal to keep native birds (like crows, robins etc).
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?
I feel like they should have swapped the masks around for this one.
They are smart creatures.
I didn't want to kill the damn thing. But, our whole street was crow free for at least 2 years.
I am aware Ravens are known to mimic sounds more than Crows, unless I am mistaken.
Epic Cat Fight w/ Two Birds