Crow Logs of the Project.

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Recent Crow Observations: Not Yet Sorted into Individual Categories

UPDATED: November 22, 2005.


Date: July, 2005. Location: Federal Way , WA USA

Location_Description: A Target Parking lot

Behavior: I have a lot of experience with crows, but I will never forget this day. I saw the crow carry over a mayo packet. He stepped on one end and tore a small opening. Then, he stuck his beak in and licked the contents. What amazed me, was with his other foot he pressed on one end and kept stepping it closer and closer to the end he was licking, laying it flat as to squeeze the contents of the packet to the end he was licking from, just like we would. I already had a great deal of respect for the corvid family, but watching that, i was amazed at how he did this so meticulously. K.F.

Date: 11/22/05 Location: Brentwood, Tennessee USA

Location_Description: Pasture area on 9 acres privately owned in a suburban region.

Behavior: I have been putting out dried ears of corn and within minutes of putting it out, the crows who frequent my yard come out of nowhere and feast on the corn. Usually a group of 4 hang together though sometimes as many as 22 are seen flying together.

Comments: Is the dried corn a safe feed for the crows? B.R.


Yes, dried corn is safe food for crows. They routinely feed on the ears left over after the cornfields are harvested. The four crows that hang together are most likely the mated pair that "owns" the local territory and two of their offspring, either from this year or earlier years. If you run out of corn or want to vary the crows' diet, you could try throwing out dry dog or cat food which they usually love and which contains all the nutrients that they need.


Date: 11/20/05. Location: Palm Springs, CA (in residential neighborhood)

Location_Description: An area of single story homes built primarily in the 1950-1965 range. Each lot is approx. 10,000 square feet. Many of the homes have pools and there are many California and Mexican fan palms in the neighborhood. No retail businesses in the immediate area.

Behavior: Late afternoon (about 3:45 p.m.). The sun had just set behind the 11,000 foot mountains to the west. There's a very long twilight here in the winter (probably another 1-1/2 of twilight). I'm hearing a lot of crows "cawing" (sp?) outside our house. Making a loud enough ruckus that I stepped outside in our back yard and observed a flock of perhaps 25 birds doing the following:

Many of the birds were flying around, diving at, and occasionally perching in a large California fan palm in our neighbor's yard. These are the robust palms approx. 30-40 feet high. This particular tree is untrimmed (i.e. the thatch covers much of the trunk like a "beard"). I do know that the palm thatch can be home for rats in this area. Not sure what else might live in there (not sure I want to know ).

In the distance there is a stand of approximately 8 Mexican fan palms (these are the tall slender fan palms, guessing their height at 80-120 feet. Just a guess.
The birds flying around the California fan palm are "cawing" almost continually. The other birds are perching primarily in the Mexican fan palms in the distance. Occasionally a bird would land in the California fan palm but not often and it wouldn't stay perched there but a few seconds.

Then I started viewing what appeared to be organized flying occurring! It was fascinating. I'll try to describe as best I can:

As time wore on from my first hearing the birds (approximately 10-15 minutes passed) I noticed fewer and fewer of the birds were flying. Then it was only 1 or 2 birds would be "sent out" from the Mexican fan palms to circle the California fan palm. Then after a few minutes I observed this: Only one bird would be out of the Mexican fan palms circling and diving at the other tree. The Mexican fan palms (the ones in the distance) have now formed what appeared to be a "perching formation". Three of the trees had only one bird perched, right at the top of the tree (It was dusk and I could see the silhouette clearly only at the top of the trees the single birds are perched in.

Meanwhile all the other birds stopped flying and were perched in only one of the Mexican fan palms. These palms have a crown at the top. There were (guessing) 20-25 birds sitting in the one tree. Finally the loner birds at the top of the palm trees flew off (I didn't see where they went). I just looked outside to see what has happened since I started writing this email. The tree that was so crowded with the entire flock is now populated by from only 6-8 birds. It is now a fairly dark dusk here (still visible light but getting very dim).

I'll keep an eye out after I send this and if I see any other behaviour that think might be important to you, I'll send a followup.

Comments: The best way I can describe the flock of crows behavior is that it wasn't haphazard what the flock was doing. Somehow they were communicating? Or maybe it was just normal behavior of the species? I'm curious. Nonetheless it was a fun experience to watch the birds do whatever they were doing. I'm not normally a bird watcher per-se. This is an accidental bird watching experience I won't forget for awhile. It inspired me enough to start searching the internet for information (and I found your website).
Thanks for listening and hope this helps with your project.
Also, please clarify or dispel if it's a myth. A friend of mine told me crows can be taught to talk (like a parrot). Is this true? If so, I'm determined they're relatively bright after watching this afternoon's "show." R. S.


Thanks for the fascinating report. Its hard to guess exactly what was going on, though it sounds like there might have been something the crows didn't like in the California palm. If something like that happened here in Connecticut, I would suspect that the crows had found an owl in the tree and were attempting to drive it away, but the owl was determined to stay put. I don't know what the owl situation is out in Palm Springs, but if it wasn't an owl, then I'd bet on some other sort of predator. It looks like the "loner crows" took up positions where they could serve as lookouts (often these sentry crows are the older, more experienced birds), while others took turns trying to roust out the predator. Usually young males will do that job, earning status in the flock by "counting coup" on a dangerous foe. You can sometimes see them doing that while chasing a hawk. Eventually when the predator did not reappear, the flock lost interest and dispersed.

Crows are indeed remarkably intelligent and they can be taught to speak and often will mimic sounds on their own and use them in appropriate circumstances. There is a cruel myth associated with teaching crows to talk, which is that their tongues must be split before they can be taught to speak. This is definitely not true.


Thanks for the response re: the palm tree crows. There are owls here and I'm guessing they live in unpruned palm trees. At night, I've seen owl(s ) flying overhead, also near the California fan palm. Sounds like an owl was the thing the crows were so excited about. I did check out the once-crowded palm tree prior to dark and I didn't see a single crow left in that tree. Could be it was just too dark to see. Not sure. I'll be watching the sky for crow activity tomorrow. Thanks for the quick email response. My perception of crows has certainly changed.


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