Observation Logs, British Columbia, Canada. The American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos.

Lower Frazer Valley, British Columbia: between Mar/99 & Oct/99

Location_Description: native flora, landscaped grounds of local university & its parking lot

Behavior: While crows seem to gather together in large groups, I noticed two crows that spent a lot of time together in the trees & grounds just outside the main college entrance leading toward the parking lot. (I assumed they were the same two crows but that may not be true.)

Shortly before the end of spring semester, I saw that one of the crows had the top part of its beak broken off about what I judged to be between 1 -2 cm. & it kept its beak hanging open most of the time. I figured this would be a death sentence for that crow as it needed its bill for eating. When I returned for the fall semester, I saw that the same crow was still there, looked to be in good shape & no longer had its mouth open. I'm taking this semester off, so I don't know if it's still there.

Comments: I'm very curious to know if it was still possible for the crow to gather food for itself. The university is small with only one cafeteria & there's not that much scrap food left around by people that would make easy pickings. Is it instead possible that crows are altrusitic & will feed one another that have a handicap like this? How did the crow break off the tip of it top beak? And lastly, was the crow experiencing pain, or what, when it kept its beak open? (Judy Wilkins)

Lower Frazer Valley, British Columbia: throughout the year

Location_Description: lawn just outside the college cafeteria

Behavior: Sometimes students will leave french fries & scraps of food outside the cafeteria doors. I've sat just inside & watched the birds picking at it when people are not about. Generally English sparrows & starlings are the birds most likely to be about. When a crow lands nearby, if it just walks close to the starlings, they'll scatter. The crow will pick up in its beak as much as it can hold, fly off a short distance (generally still in sight for me) & proceed to drop the food, dig a hole in the ground with its beak & appear to stuff the food into the hole, before coming back & repeating this activity till all the food is gone.

Comments: While I can see the benefit of this behaviour with nuts or wild food, I wonder about the storage value of french fries. Will the crows come back to get stored french fries? The food cannot possibly remain edible for long, so if they return to their holes, do they return the same day, or within the week? Or is this meant for long-term storage? Is the larder the crow makes for its own use, or is it meant for the crow's small family community use too?

East Vancouver, British Colombia: February 24, 2000

5,000 - 10,000 (?) crows fly over our house every night about 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm heading south east towards Burnaby. Every night they fly over heading in the same direction. exact location of roost is unknown. If anyone knows where they go...? (Dayle Moseley)

Burnaby, Vancouver, British Columbia: 11/5/99

Location_Description: ON a grassy boulevard near a near a natural sanctuary at about 11:00PM. The place was called Stillcreek. The boulevard was across the street from the sanctuary. Behavior: The behavior I observed was hundreds of crows gathered on a narrow but long grassy boulevard. The thing that strikes me odd is it was 11:00pm at night.

Comments: THE crows wern't looking for food as usually they do.Rather it seemed that they were just hanging around in a social sort of way.The thing that intrigued me the most was the sound of so many crows cawing at once. (Karl Jesson)

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British Columbia Crow Observation Logs

Updated: August 12, 2001.

This section includes reports of various observers from British Columbia.

Surrey, B. C. Canada: July 2000 (reported 7/9/01)

Location_Description: Backyard. Unused swimming pool with a lightweight blanket covering it. I observed the behaviour from our kitchen area, (windows in 3 directions) on the same level as and facing the pool.

Behavior: I first noticed the crow when it flew in and landed on the cement deck around the pool. It had a large very hard, dry piece of bread in it's beak. I hopped from the deck onto the blanket (how it had determined it wouldn't sink, I don't know. Anything heavier would sink) . It had landed on a spot without much water, so it stamped it's foot so the water would seep through and put the bread into the water to soften it. He hopped onto the deck, ate the part that was softened then jumped back onto the blanket to soften up the rest. I have also seen him fly in with someing in his beak about the size and thickness of a swizzle stick, very dry and unwieldly. He put his foot on it, and pulled it with his beak in order to break it apart.

Comments: When I first saw this behaviour I was flabbergasted. The bird had to have been somewhere else and form the thought of using the swimming pool water to soften the bread. It had to have learned it was ok to jump on the blanket, and it had to have learned that the blanket was porous and he could get more water by stamping his foot. By the way, he treats our backyard like his own private area, with a private pond. Once in a while another crow comes with him, but not often. (Susan Borgs)


British Columbia, Canada:June 11, 2001

A relatively urban area. I have trees around my yard but none very large. I havent seen a nest, but I have 2 crows constantly harassing me. It started 3 days ago. I was moving my sprinkler in the front yard and I was struck in the head fairly hard. My first reaction was that the neighbour kid must have hit me with his football. I was a little stunned and when I looked up I could see a crow in a nearby tree crowing loudly and staring at me anxiously. Behind me was another crow in a tree making noise also. Thinking I must be near their nest I went and sat in my truck and looked around the nearby trees for a sign of the nest. I could not see one but they continued to harass me. They followed me to my back yard and kept flying by. Nothing more happened until this morning when I went to go to work they both appeared in the front yard and began circling me again and went to a nearby street light and squawked at me from their perch. When I got home from work they were circling a neighbours yard about 200 or 300 ft away from mine. I'm not sure what to do. I dont want them in my yard if they are going to continue to harass me but am not about to shoot them. Is there an easy way to discourage them from sticking around my house? Any help would be appreciated. (Todd Strong)

Vancouver, BC, Canada: May 28, 2001.

Location_Description: My back alley in a residential area with electrical poles down each side of the lane and large trees in a few of the yards.

Behavior: As I was walking down my back alley, I heard two crows cawing. Since I have been attacked by crows on numerous occasions, I did not look up to see where they were. As the cawing became louder, I felt one of the crows fly closely over my head without hitting me. At that moment I screamed and shouted 'leave me alone'. I kept feeling them swooning over me and kept shouting 'leave me alone' to no avail. I had to put on my hood to prevent it from touching my head. However, I felt it continually flying really close around me. It stopped when I went down a broad street with no trees around. About 45 minutes later, I made my way home up the alley. I saw a crow sitting on the wires above and dared not stare at it too long. I don't know if it was the same crow or not but I was on edge when passing under it. Thankfully, it didn't do anything.

As I've mentioned previously, I have been attacked by crows before. There were three other occasions.

The first happened long ago about eight years ago. It happened in the same area where I lived. This time I was walking on a street that is surrounded by chestnut trees. As I was passing under these trees, A crow came swooning down over my head and kept doing this as I walked. I am not sure if it was just one crow or two but it made me duck and swerve to avoid contact with it. Then I ran because I had enough. It finally stopped when I reached the next block where there are no trees around.

The second time happened about five years ago while I was walking around the seawall in Stanley Park. As I was walking, out of nowhere a crow approached me from behind and hit me on the head with what felt like it's belly. That was the end of that.

The third incident happened last year around summer/fall. This happened at the back alley again. I heard a crow cawing and without thinking, looked up to see it sitting on the wires. When I passed it and reached the end of the alley, it came after me. It flew right by my left ear without contact. I screamed and quickened my steps. It then came and flew close to my right ear. I started to run.I do not know if it was the same crow who has been attacking me all this time.

Comments: I have heard that crows are very intelligent creatures, have good memories and protect their young. I have not done anything to the crow(s)to provoke them in any way. If there is a nest around it would be too high for me to reach it. Also there was another person at the end of the alley during the third incident. So,why didn't it go after that person? Why is it(the same crow?)attacking me? What can I do to stop these attacks? It's making me apprehensive about walking outside. I feel like I need to take my car to be protected from these attacks. Please help.

White Rock, British Columbia, Canada: April 5, 2001.

Location_Description: The beach area sits facing into Semiahmoo Bay. The southern shore of the bay in the Northern most shore of Washington State, on our side it is a mixture of a Native Indian Reservation and commercial waterfront (lots of fish and chip shops) with the Burlington Northern Railway running along the shore.

Behavior: Being a poet I am the constant observer. During my walks I have recently noticed an area that seems to be frequented by a herd of crows. It appears to be their swimming/bathing hole. This is close to the ocean where a small river empties out into the bay. The crows bath, and then fly up to a nearby tree, dry themselves and then chat and banter amongst themselves. A good time seems to be had by all - I am jealous of not being able to be apart of the party! A poem is in progress.

Comments: Is this common bathing practices for crows? They seem to be so independent, yet come together at key times such as these. (Sue Ann Gentry)

Near Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada: Summer of 1999 (reported 3/15/01)

Location_Description: Our home in a simi-rural area. Crows were getting into bird bath and dirtying it. I hung imitation owl near it. Crows stayed away. Week later, one large crow landed in tree, 15 feet from owl. crow stared at owl for two minutes straight, then dived into bird bath and had a peaceful bath! He observed it was a fake. (Bruce Lamb)

Vancouver, British Columbia: May 19, 2000

Location_Description: a busy intersection in an industrial area (no stoplight, just a crosswalk) on one corner is a park/baseball field, across the street is a pathway and industrial buildings, on the other side is a parking lot... with a line of trees by the sidewalk.

Behavior: as i was minding my own business walking along the path, i was attacked by a crow!! this happened on two separate days. the first time, it attacked... and made contact twice... my head seemed to be the target. not sure if it was the feet, or the beak or what... but it definitely hit me. the third time it just flew really really close to me... and i swerved and so it didn't hit me. the second day, it attacked again... twice it hit me on the right shoulder.... hard. the third time it flew by really low.... and then we had a staring down session. it sat on a branch in tree in front of me and made its sqawking noises... to intimidate me. Comments: i heard that crows can get pretty aggresive when people invade their territory but this is really really aggressive behaviour!!! (s.t.)

Vancouver, British Columbia: April 5, 1999. (reported 3/15/00)

Location_Description: Queen Elizabeth Park is centerally located in Vancouver, atop quite a high hill and comanding an excellent view of the city and the beautiful North Shore mountains. Built on the sight of an old quarry it has beautiful grounds and lovely formal flower gardens, a conservatory and many tall cedar trees.

Behavior: I walk from my house to Queen E. often throughout the year and have always enjoyed watching the many crows that love the park as much as I do. On one particular day my husband and I were just exiting the park when I noticed a crow lying motionless on the grass at the foot of a tree. I started towards it to see if it were dead but as I drew near the body the most godawful cries sounded above my head! I looked up into the branches of the tree and saw 7 or 8 shiney black crows shreiking at me. I decided that this was not going to be the day to add a new crow skull to my collection ( I am a jeweller and multi media artist and make a series of bird shrines using bones and feathers) so we made a hasty retreat. The terrible shreiking went on and we looked back to see one of the crows from the tree descend onto its fallen friend landing on it's chest, it continued to scream and started to beat its wings rapidly as if to try to revive the other crow. It did not seem to be a violent attack,and the crow on the ground appeared to be dead,still, it was very intense and their reaction to our approach was pure outrage.We watched this behavior continue for about 5 minutes then left them in peace.

Comments: To me this behavior suggests a deep sense of community within the crow world, I have read that crows travel to certain areas to feed during the day and that they travel in extended family groups? If this were the case perhaps we happened upon the death in the family and witnessed some kind mourning ritual. (Erin Dolman)

Lower Fraser Valley, British Columbia: March 3, 2000

Location_Description: our backyard, wonderfully overgrown suburban lot

Behavior: Two crows (unknown whether they were male & female, but were always together) inhabited our backyard, spending a lot of time at the top of a dead cedar. I often watched them & would notice that one crow would often 'hump' his wings up reminding me of a person caught in a shrug. He(?) would then lower his head looking like an imitation of a vulture. He would then make soft gurgling noises sounding a bit like a turkey imitation. He would do this 3 - 4 times, the they would just sit there for a while. Other times one of the crows would loudly & quickly clack their beak repeatedly for 2 - 3 seconds. At no time did either bird seem alarmed, upset or aggressive to the other. I've since noticed the beak clattering among other crows but both behaviours always have been between two birds.

Comments: I was wondering if this was a confirmation of their bond between them? With the beak clattering, one will sometimes try to 'cosy' up to the other crow. If you're able to affirm this, I'd be grateful. (Judy Wilkins)

Sep 9, 1999: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
May(?) 1990: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Location_Description: Residential neighbourhood, Many mature trees.
Behavior: Fledgling found injured (bleeding profulsely from puncture wound on left side abdomen) on neighour's front porch. We brought it to an emergency clinic that treats wildlife. The next day when I checked to see how it was doing they asked if I could keep it for the couple of days it needed to heal because they were too busy.
We picked it up, contained it in a chicken wire cage that we placed high in our backyard tree. We hoped that Mom would feed it... Of course, mom knew where baby was and although she would come within about five feet in the trees, she wouldn't feed it. We fed it cat food as instructed by the clinic.
Unfortunately for us, Mom had enlisted all the troops in berating us for having birdnapped on of their own. From day one they expressed their emotions (anger, grief, concern?) by loud vocalizations, somewhat agressive diving (never actually touching us), and following us for blocks when we left the house. For the seven or so days that we had baby, and for about a month afterwards, we were always watched and followed by the crows. Others could come and go from our house without a problem. It was just the two of us who were involved that they targeted.
A two day period of constant vigilence paid off when we felt finally that the young crow would be safe. We had let it out several times but took it back when it continuously ended up back on the ground with very interested cats nearby. The adults were far less vocal or aggressive during these "test flights".
Comments: The crows certainly gained my respect for how well they work together, their communication network, and their great memory.
I hated having them "hate" me but I know that particular young one would not have survived without our intervention. It was very embarassing being singled out and on the receiving end of angry crows --ones that follow you for blocks from tree to tree, ignoring everyone else!

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