Did You Know?

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Did you know that crows are highly intelligent beings? They have the same brain /body size ratio as chimpanzees (also not far off from humans). They also have an excellent memory and can remember your face.

Crows are members of the Corvidae family, which also includes ravens, magpies, and blue jays.  Loud and very intelligent, crows are most often associated with a history of fear. They have long symbolized death because they are carrion birds that feed on dead animals. Many people believe that when a crow appears it means death is near or it can be a warning. Others believe it is a symbol of change. When the crow comes cawing it is to tell us that the time of change is here and now and to let go of the old self and the things that are holding us back.

Crows pay attention to how the human world works and use it often to their advantage. They have adaptive behavior.  They can think and plan ahead. For example, some have been observed cracking walnuts by dropping them at the exact height needed to bust them open and others will drop the nuts in front of a moving vehicle, letting the vehicle do the work for them. Crows have strong sharp beaks. These crows also memorize the pattern of traffic lights to optimize the exact moment they drop the nuts, but also to make sure they only retrieve them when the light is red, so they don’t get run over. They memorize what days and times the garbage men come. How many times have you put your garbage out the night before only to find it torn open in the morning, probably by a crow? They remember the days and memorize the cycle of the garbage truck.

They are great problem solvers and have been put through many levels of testing by scientists as to their ability to think and find solutions in a given situation. Crows also make and use tools. They can be trained to do many things. When scientists attached small cameras to New Caledonian crows, they discovered that the crows used small sticks to get bugs out of trees. The crows also used stiff leaves and grass to manufacture knives, and then use those knives to manufacture other tools.

Crows have been known to change their entire migration pattern to avoid farms where even one single crow has been killed or shot at for ruining crops. Generations later, they still remember specific houses to avoid. Crows have an unforgiving memory. They never forget. If you harm them, they can remember what you look like. Their memory is able to store the facial features of a person. They will immediately exchange information to other birds to warn them about you. They can also retaliate by dive-bombing the individual that tried to inflict the harm on them when they see them. All of the cawing isn’t just noise. They talk to one another. They are not only capable of identifying threats within their visual range and relaying that information to others, they are capable of passing the info on from one generation to the next. There can be as many as fifteen or more members in a family at the same time. The young mostly stay with their parents for years.

Crows have a social life and recognize extended family groups. They can fight off other crows that threaten their family or their territory. Some mate for life unless their partner is killed. Both the male and female crow builds the nest along with other helping crows. The female is the one who usually finishes off the interior making it nice and comfortable for her.  Crows roost in single groups together. You might have heard or seen them all resting together in a tree on their way somewhere. For many, this is a time for reuniting with old friends and family and also serves as a source of protection when in that many numbers.

Crows eat fruit, vegetables, small toads, bugs, fish, garbage, dead animals and anything else they can find that is edible. They have been known to take on and scare away larger birds such as ravens and eagles that threaten their family and food supply.  Crows have iridescent colors that range from blackish green to purplish and blue tones.

They partially migrate. Most leave when it gets to cold but some stay around. A whole lot of crows are called a murder of crows.  They have one successful brood a year. Crows can live a long life. The oldest recorded in the U.S. lived 29 years. The second oldest recorded lived to be fourteen. Crows can also talk and say a few words. They have been known to mimic people and other animals.

You can check out intelligent experiments with crows on Tubemate Youtube. Also visit Joe the talking crow. There is also a short documentary worth watching on crows by Lesley the bird nerd and for a real laugh check out the crow boarding surfer- (the crow that was caught on camera entertaining himself by sliding down a snowy roof on a bottle cap over and over again).

So next time you come face to face with a crow, smile and be nice. Remember he’ll be
watching you!