Sunday, March 9, 2014

Crow Stories

The parent club at the local elementary school our girls attended, sold bags of popcorn to the students once a week. One day, as I was leaving the school after volunteering, I noticed every tree in and around the playground was filled with crows. The large numbers were so remarkable to me that instead of the hairs on the back of my neck standing up in horror, I began to wonder what event they were anticipating. Crows don't gather without purpose. I don't know if I put it together that day or later after witnessing the gathering another week, but it suddenly became clear they were all waiting for lunch recess when the children would emerge with their bags of popcorn and inevitably leave many many morsels behind.

Several years later, I was sitting in my car waiting for a walking partner near a Willamette University practice field. There was a team of young soccer players attending a summer camp out on the field. The wood bleachers were decorated with the player's backpacks and duffle bags. While I sat watching, one young man ran over to his bag and removed his water bottle for a quick drink. Minutes later, a crow landed on the bleachers and casually strolled and hopped from bench to bench, with one eye on the team members. The crow zeroed in on the thirsty boy's bag, hopped on top, grasped the zipper in its beak and began to unzip the bag. He resumed his casual hopping from one bench to another while watching the boys and then returned to the bag. The crow pulled it open, eyed the contents and lifted out a sandwich wrapped in foil. He carefully folded back the foil, removed half and flew away. When the boys returned to their bags for a break, the owner of the violated bag appeared incredulous that someone would take his food. An unsolved mystery that was probably the cause for suspicion amongst the team members. All because of a crafty crow.

Last year, a friend shared a story of a crow who visited her backyard squirrel feeder. The crow visited every day for a week (at the same time), trying to figure out how it might access the peanuts inside the plastic tube. The following week, the crow showed up with a second crow. My friend said the original visitor, showed the  second one how he'd been attempting to access the nuts. Then the second crow hopped up onto the feeder tube and showed how to grasp the tube while upside down. It worked! It was as if the stymied crow had called in a consultant. Amazing!


Unknown said...

We have watched crow parents spend hours teaching and encouraging their young crow children how to fly. As the baby flies (hops really) from place to place, the parents move slightly farther away, all the while vocally instructing and protecting. It's amazing to watch and very reminiscent of my own baby girls as they took their first footsteps with adults all around them, encouraging and protecting.

KandN said...

Hi Bonnie,
That must be fun and fascinating to watch! I like the connection you made to your own hatchlings, too. :)