How to befriend your neighborhood crows

Befriending crows doesn't appeal to me much. Their dark and ominous ways freak me out a little. My neighborhood murder (which really says all you need to know, doesn't it?) perch in the tree outside my front door for hours at a time, squawking loudly, presumably at my indoor tabby cat who's imprisoned behind the front window. 

However, if YOU want to make friends with crows, be my guest.

Find some food that the crow seems to like. This requires some trial and error, as they can —or maybe it's just the urban ones who can—be surprisingly finicky. You'll know the crow likes it judging by how quickly it swoops down to grab it. If that pile of leftovers sits all day, they just aren't interested, so try something else, only make sure it's healthy. Crows like junk food, but giving it to them is probably not a kind thing to do..
Stock that food. Buy enough so you don't run out. I buy huge bags of unsalted peanuts from Costco...
Establish a regular feeding schedule, so they know when to expect you and vice versa. If you don't establish a rhythm for interaction, the relationship may never gel. And don't feed them so much that they become dependent—just a handful of something to show you care.
Be dependable, steadfast, and observant. Don't just throw the food out there and walk away. Stay (at a safe distance) to watch them eat (or select carefully and fly off to cache it for later).
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Birdhouse window feeders that look like little houses inside

Artist Jada Fitch creates impossibly cute bird feeders that attach to windows, allowing viewers to enjoy the sights of birds inside what looks like a tiny home. Read the rest

Guy puts a camera into a bucket of water, desert creatures sneak sips

Sometimes, the simplest idea makes a great video. Case in point: the fine folks at Southwest Texas Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living Field Laboratory dropped a GoPro into a bucket of water, to the delight of creatures great and small. Read the rest

Gorgeous aviary of hundreds of papercraft birds

The Paper Aviary just completed a successful free exhibition of beautifully-crafted paper birds. Let's hope it travels following its inaugural success! Read the rest

Crows atop other birds

Crows are smart, and they can be kind of jerks sometimes. To wit: this series of crows perched or riding on top of other birds. Their victims range from indifferent to grumpy. Read the rest

This rainbow lorikeet bird and its human enjoy hissing happily together

A woman shares this video of her rainbow lorikeet “hissing with me in perfect synchrony.”

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Turkey splits up fight between roosters

Dennis Coon was unable to stop two roosters kicking off in the yard, but Officer Gobbles was having none of it. Read the rest

Just some burbs

Burb.

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Cockatoo barks like a dog

This umbrella cockatoo is a very good puppo. Read the rest

Bird has marching orders

This brief edit of last year's wonderful Gokchin sansei Cute Caique Parrot Bird Silly Walk, embedded below in full, is doing well on Twitter today.

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Uplifting! USPS replaces dead canaries after live bird shipment crushed, mangled

It was supposed to be a 60th birthday present to herself, but Rhonda King's dream of sharing her life with a family of chirping birds ended when USPS delivered a boxful of crushed canaries her hair salon in Alabama.

"When my postmaster got there he told me, 'Well, your birds arrived, but they're not alive,'" King told Al.com. "This happened right in front of my clients. I was handed this box with tire tracks on it and bird carnage hanging out."

King paid a seller in Texas $600 for eight birds and an additional $100 to have them shipped. The box was supposed to ship on Dec. 5, King's 60th birthday, and arrive the following day. But, three days later, the smashed package arrived, missing two of the birds.

USPS made good on their promise to fix the situation, however, replacing the canaries and erasing what the AP calls "the avian horror of the first delivery."

"They sound like small instruments of orchestra music," she said. "It's just beautiful, soft, harmonizing, orchestrated music."

On Thursday, like seven small mythical phoenixes who rose from the ashes, the new birds arrived in Grant.

"They're beautiful birds," King said a few hours after their arrival. "They're just picture perfect!"

"It's not going to replace the other birds, but they did the next best thing and I'm proud of them," King said of the Postal Service.

All in all, a good reminder of why you should never use the postal service to transport small children. Read the rest

How to turn your bird into a bunny

If you happen to have a Pacific parrotlet who happens to be patient, and you happen to have a couple of spare feathers lying around, you might try this trick to turn it into a rabbit. Read the rest

Hundreds of blackbirds mysteriously fell from New Jersey sky

Last month, more than 200 red-winged blackbirds dropped from the sky above Cumberland County in New Jersey. It's the second time in less than a month, and the third this year. From Philly.com:

"They just fell from the sky," said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection...

After county agricultural agents had been notified by homeowners, the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife arrived in Stow Creek and removed the birds, collecting some of them to be sent to a state lab for necropsy, toxicology, and histopathology tests.

But the results of all the tests were inconclusive, Hajna said last week.

"We did ascertain that the birds suffered trauma and internal bleeding from hitting the ground," Hajna said. "But what made them fall from the sky in the first place . . . we can't say for certain."

Even wheat seed from a nearby farmer's field was collected and tested for chemical compounds by the University of Pennsylvania... None of those compounds (found) is considered harmful to birds and none of the chemicals was found to be among those that are sometimes used by farmers to control "nuisance" species like blackbirds, Hajna said.

"Why are these birds falling from the sky in South Jersey?" (Philly.com) Read the rest

Digitally cloned jumping birds in a scene from the BBC's Planet Earth 2

Planet Earth is not journalism, and the BBC is open about the various tricks and techniques it uses to create compelling stories from wildlife footage. So Pohjankonna Oy's video retiming these jumping birds isn't really a gotcha. But it sure is cool to see how the sausage is made. Read the rest

Intelligence on the wing: The Genius of Birds

On Tuesday November 8, 2016, tens of millions of Americans enthusiastically cast their presidential ballots for a tax-cheating, racist demagogue who literally said anything to get the votes of common working stiffs, even though it should have been abundantly obvious to them that the promises were empty, the rhetoric insincere. A few months ago, I might have called such voters bird brains, but lately I’ve been reading Jennifer Ackerman’s wonderful new book, The Genius of Birds, so I now understand that such an epithet would be an insult to birds. Birds may not be smart enough enough to run a cynical and disingenuous presidential campaign, but birds would never be so stupid as to act so recklessly against their own self-interest.

In The Genius of Birds, Ackerman does not argue that birds are the intellectual equals of humans — that if only a robin could type, it, too, could produce a body of writing on par with the complete works of William Shakespeare. But Ackerman does give us enough examples of what can only be described as intelligence to cause us to reconsider many of our assumptions about whether human beings have a monopoly — or, in the case of the current election, even a grasp — on smarts.

We learn, for example, that “the world’s smartest bird” is a crow found on the island of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, and that this crow can solve puzzles requiring as many as eight steps to execute and two separate tools — O.K., they’re sticks. Read the rest

Parrot perfectly mimics Google acknowledgement noise

I laboriously prepared the following accurate transcript of this video of an African Gray parrot.

WOMAN: OK Google

BIRD: Bloop!

WOMAN: Good job

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Starling murmurations as you've never heard before

Starlings in flight are always beautiful, but what's most remarkable about The Art of Flying, a film by Jan van IJken about a massive flock of starlings, is the sound. Read the rest

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