According to researcher Kaeli Swift of the University of Washington's Avian Conservation Laboratory, crows hold "funerals." When they see a corpse of their own kind they gather together and squawk loudly. To determine what they may be doing, Swift displayed a taxidermied dead crow to other crows. On some days though, she wore a creepy mask and wig. After multiple experiments with and without her disguise or the dead bird, the crows appeared to remember "the experience with the mask and dead crow and now connected the area with danger." From Deep Look:
And here’s what Swift said makes that really interesting: These new mobs (she encountered even weeks later) contained crows that had never seen the masked Swift with the dead crow. But they still learned to avoid the masked figure.
Learning directly from each other, rather than through individual experience, is called social learning.
“By participating in these funerals, crows can get information about new dangers without taking the risk,” Swift said.
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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.
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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).
Crows in D experiments with the cymatic patterns of bird wings, pairing up the waveforms of audio tones with the wing cycles of crows arranged end to end. Read the rest
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
Office workers try to feed a wild crow, which wants something other than food. Read the rest
Do Crows hold funerals? Nah, not really, but they're up to something when one among the murder is murdered, and scientists are fascinated by their behavior around fallen comrades.
Calling to each other, gathering around, and paying special attention to a fallen comrade is common among the highly intelligent corvids, a group of birds that includes crows, jays, magpies, and ravens, says Kaeli Swift, a Ph.D student in environmental science at the University of Washington. (See "Are Crows Smarter Than Children?")
But it doesn't necessarily mean the birds are mourning for their lost buddy. Rather, they're likely trying to find out if there's a threat where the death occurred, so they can avoid it in the future.
One study involved using masks to see if crows would avoid humans who handled dead crows (and thereby implicated themselves in the investigation.) They did. On the other hand, if crows are smart enough to investigate murders, maybe they're smart enough to take one look at that mask and think: "OK, that is definitely a murderer." Read the rest
Seems the animal uprising continues on the North American continent! Vancouver humans are under attack by aggressive crows. Jim O'Leary, an instructor at Langara College, has developed an interactive map of the attacks, but as yet offers no explanation for the aggressive birds.
Via the CBC website:
"You could go out on the street and you could see the crows, literally, coming and hitting people on the head."
O'Leary hopes his map will reveal some patterns in where crows attack. For instance, it is already showing that a large number of the attacks happen in the West End and downtown of Vancouver, which makes sense, he says, because crows love to be around human food, and those areas have lots of restaurants and leafy trees.
The map has already gotten about 300 attacks recorded in it, and O'Leary wants to see more.
O'Leary, however, hasn't added to any of that data, because he hasn't been attacked himself.
"I'm careful, and I have a little umbrella that I put behind me," he said.
(Thanks, Russell Smalley!) Read the rest
In the charming platform game Crowtel, you're a crow running a seedy hotel, and you're not very good at it. Well, really you're just lazy—not living up to your potential, as your crow teachers doubtless used to say—and as a result your not-so-fine establishment is looking pretty crusty indeed when the feline health inspectors show up.
Unless you want to get shut down, it's time to get your crow butt in gear and run through six levels of rapid cleanup, contending with giant balls of garbage, deadly bugs and broken toilets you can fix with your melodious birdsong. Also maybe there are ghosts?
Developed by Sink with a soundtrack by Captain Beard, Crowtel is pay-what-you-what over on Itch.io, so technically you can get it for free if you want. But after you see how delightful it is, chances are you'll wish you'd dropped a few dollars in the jar.
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Hanging on to that wiper must be murder.
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