Friday, October 30, 2009

Something to Crow About

I recently watched The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, a Canadian documentary series on CBC. The episode was called A Murder of Crows which details the inner life of one of the "most intelligent, playful and mischievous species on the planet".

I have a new respect for these birds--they are able to recognize faces, use tools and problem solve. When they're making all that sleep-rousing noise, I think they might actually be trying to tell us something. Here are some crow facts that I lifted from the CBC website:

Crows are found on every continent except Antarctica.
Crows have an exceptional ability to remember and pick a single human face out of a crowd.
Crows are far more likely to be found living close to cities and suburbs than out in the country.
Each generation of crows is capable of building on an earlier generation's knowledge.
New Caledonian crows are one of only three species, besides human, in the world capable of making tools.
Crows live with a mated pair, their kids, and offspring from previous years in an extended family.
Crows have different warning calls - one for cats, and one for hawks, and another for humans - 250 in all.
Crows are omnivores and eat fruits, vegetables and meat.

Check out a short video clip here.


NuclearToast said...

In the building I used to work in, I had a ground-floor window office, and a crow had a cache spot outside my window where he'd hide food, then come back later and claim it.

I don't think it's fair that something as cool as crows were assigned the plural "murder".

NuclearToast said...

I have to correct myself before someone else does. It's not a plural, it's a collective noun.

There, now I feel better.

jan said...

One of my funniest dog experiences was when my Mini Poodle decided to run at a crow. The crow sat there wondering if it was a predator or lunch. Finally the Poodle stopped mid stride. The crow flew away but I swear he was laughing.

Georgie said...

Oh, I do know their call of danger for hawks and other preditory birds. Sounds quite different than their usual: "Caw, caw, caw."

We have scores of crows in my area who live under constant threat of a rather dangerous yet absolutely gorgeous falcon (the wing span and glide on this glorious creature is beyond incredible!) who swoops down and makes them scatter -- all in a matter of seconds.

Aren't you just in total "awe" at nature sometimes? Gotta love it.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Oh, NT, I would love to have seen that. Except if it were some roadkill he'd stashed out there.

Lynn Sinclair said...

That was one brave crow, Jan. No wonder your dog stopped in his tracks.

Lynn Sinclair said...

I am in awe of nature, Georgie. Sounds like the crows have that falcon's number.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I once watched a show where a crow got into a safe and opened the door after observing his owner doing so!!

Lynn Sinclair said...

I've never given them enough credit, Karla, that's for sure. Oh, and I just realized what you wrote -- a crow for a pet!

Heidi the Hick said...

I know they're a nuisance but they have such gorgeous black feathers, with that blue glow.

My friend has a blue jay. He was a baby with a broken wing, and he wouldn't leave. Jays are from the crow family, and this darn bird has a huge vocabulary. He can perfectly mimic the phone ringing!!

Magpies too, can mimic. Pretty amazing stuff!

Lynn Sinclair said...

Birds are amazing, Heidi. Good to hear from you!

Raggedy Angst said...

I love this. And I want a pet crow. And I think "a murder of crows" is cool. Is it true that Edgar Allan Poe coined that term? I believe crows will soon take over the world--accumulated knowledge but no thumbs means they'll probably do better than humans have done.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Perhaps the crows will make us work for them, Raggs. You know, use our thumbs for good ... not evil.

Yeah, I kind of want a pet crow too.