Observation Logs, California, U.S.A. The American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos.

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California Crow Observation Logs

Updated:November 18, 2001.

This section includes reports of various observers from the State of California.

Los Angeles, CA: July 22, 2001

Location_Description: My neighborhood in front of my house. Suburban area with single family homes.

Behavior: There are always many crows in my neighborhood and around my home. Today, in the afternoon I heard a large group of crows cawing very loudly. There had to be at least 20 or 30 of them in the group. They were circling over head, over and over makning this loud and distressed call. Upon closer observation I noticed a dead crow on my front lawn. It had obviously been attacked (there was blood on the sidewalk and coming from its beak). Probably a cat or dog got it. The group above continued to crow loudly during the entire time I gathered the bird and buried it. After I finished they finally quieted down and left.

Comments: They seemed to be very upset about their fellow crow dying. Were they alerting one another or were they upset from the attack or both??

San Francisco, California: 1999 (reported 6/29/01)

Location_Description: Cliffs in the Richmond district.

Behavior: I was able to come very close to two crows on the cliffs by the ocean. They were aware of my presence but did not fly away. They were quite close to me. I listened to them. They were conversing. They were actually speaking to one another in a clicking language. They let me listen and as I did I felt like they were trying to convey messages to me also. I feel that crows have a way of connecting with humans that goes beyond the physical relam. I would like to research this connection more. I will get back to you with more info. as I obtain it.

Los Angeles,California, USA: Every Day (reported June 13, 2001)

Location_Description: Around my house. Many Walnut, Coral, Avocado, Mango, and Carob trees are around here.

Behavior: During several sightings I have seen crows in my neighborhood pick up small stones from the street or gardens and drop these stones on parked cars, shattering a few windows. I have also seen them raiding finch and Jay nests for the young. On one occassion last year I witnessed about 6 or so crows take to flight towards a hawk that was circling overhead and they killed it in mid-air.The hawks body fell to the ground about 30 yards away and the crows descended on it.

Comments: I told a few people about these actions and as far as the stoning of the cars, an old Japanese man I know said that they can be vindictive if tormented and the people that the cars they got were probably from people who teased them or harrassed them. As far as the mid air attack , I have seen crows eat carrion but never kill something in flight. (Albert Scott)

Laguna beach, California: June 8, 2001

I have just rescued a crow baby that was being attacked in my yard by a cat. It seems ok and very alert. I have been feeding it a mixture of ground beef mixed with raw egg yolk, alfalfa sprouts and meal worms. Is this ok? One thing that bothers me is that it can't walk on its feet. It crawls around using its wings for support and walks(crawls) on the entire leg up to what I would call the elbow if it was my arm. Is there something wrong with its legs or is this normal behavior for its age. The bird is fully feathered and I would guess very close to being able to fly on its own.

Los Gatos, California: June 5, 2001

I have recently encountered crow/s in our parking lot at work in Los Gatos, CA. When I go out for my noon walk a crow will sit in the tree and caw at me. As I pass by, it will start circling and swooping above my head, continuing to fly from tree to tree or lightpost to follow me for a distance. It is very unnerving! From what I understand, they only tend to come after people with light colored hair where I work- is that strange? Will they ever attack, or are they just guarding their nest? This is going on with me every day. Others think it is commical, but it makes me very nervous.

Southern San Diego Co., California: June 4, 2001.

Location_Description: Pepper tree next to a sidewalk

Behavior: I read your "language" section and didn't see any reference to "clucking" in crows. I observed two crows in a pepper tree making a clucking sound to each other. I stood underneath and tried to imitate the sound as much as possible, and they turned to look at me. They also seemed to cluck back at me, but then they got disturbed and flew off. I have heard this sound before, so I assume it is normal crow language. I just wondered what this sound means (mating call?) We have alot of crows here each spring and I'm trying to learn more about them. (Colleen Reck)

OAKLAND, CA: May 25-June 4, 2001.

Location_Description: My backyard which is in a residential neighborhood with a variety of trees and shrubs.

Behavior: I have a pair of crows which have a nest in a redwood tree. I have a young crow that has fallen from the nest and does not know how to fly yet. It hops around my backyard cawing for its parents which do watch it very closely but do not fly down to help it. This young crow has managed to find water that I put out for it. I don't know if it is able to find its own food yet and I'm not sure how to help it. I have captured it several times and put it on a branch, only to find it later on the ground

Sunnyvale, Ca. Santa Clara County: 5/24-6/2/2001

Location_Description: Manufacturing building, Industrial area

Behavior: I take a walk everyday on my 8:30 a.m. break. I probably spoke to this crow one day, because I always do when I interupt any bird and they fly way. Since then everyday this crow caws,circles and dive bombs me for almost my entire walk. It then waits for me to return and follows me back circling, cawing and dive bombing me. There are lots of people for this crow to choose from. It is most obvious that it is me he chooses to torment. He approaches in different manners. Sometime waiting visually, sometime waiting for me to come out from behind the building and I get a suprise attack. Sometimes he flys toward me cawing as if it were a greeting. I have come to believe that he actually likes me and that this is fun for him. I do duck a little, I also laugh, and I look up and speak to him. I believe he enjoys these responses. Whatever, there is no doubt that he reconizes me from a distance and in a parking lot full of other co workers. This has been going on daily since before the Memorial day break. Does anyone have any idea if this bird hates or likes me? I would love to understand this behavior. (Laura Ryan)

Sunnyvale, Ca. Santa Clara County: 5/24-6/2/2001 (continuing the observations above)

I have some interesting crow behavior to report. I was not at work on Friday. My friends said they did not see Mr. Crow at the 8:30 break but, he was there at 11:30 lunch circling the table and sitting on top of the building turning his head back and forth as he checked out all the people looking for me. He does not usually follow me all the way back to the table where my friends sit and I always leave for lunch so I am never there at that time. So it appears evident that his behavior in search of me was a bit obsessive.

The last few walks I have had the feeling that he was not residing in the area any longer and that he was just flying in for our 8:30 meeting. One reason is that his mate was always with him and they were flying in from a distance and a different direction. Their timing was extremely impeccable. Now remember my Mr. Crow is obsessed with these meetings and there is so much vigor and excitement when he sees me. For the last 2 days a crow has cawed as I walk by and a crow has cawed when I walk back. Like a mother crow who knows her own children (Ha!) I suspected this was a copy cat crow. It just wasn't with the same enthusiasm. I told everyone that this was a copy cat crow and of course they just thought I was crazy.

Today Mr. Crow showed up at the end of my walk, where he did not used to ever go, but, it is the direction he has been flying in from. He came flying and cawing and flew from pole to pole screaming his little heart out. I knew it was him because I just knew the difference in behavior. Mr. Crow did not follow me back. He stayed and watched until I was out of sight. Then I walked back and the copy cat crow was there and the copy cat crow cawed as I walked by. So now I know I was right.

My concerns are, (not that I expect you to really be able to answer them) how far is Mr. Crow flying to make these 8:30 meetings. He was not with his mate this morning. Where has he been for two days? Did it take him that long to fly back? Does this turf belong to the copy cat crow now? Is that why he met me somewhere different? Why is the crow being a copy cat. It is obvious it is not haveing as much fun at it. Why is Mr. Crow so obsessed in the first place. Ok so now I'm obsessed. Ha! The wondering is driving me crazy.

Ventura, CA, USA: 4/15/01

Location_Description: Observed nesting in circular area entry driveway of a retirement facility from the 5th floor.

Behavior: In nest almost directly equal to the fifth floor, watched several weeks of male bringing female food as she sat on the nest. Finally, when the eggs hatched, watched both parents bring food to the nestlings. Now that the young birds have left the nest, observed the parents flying together in an almost acrobatic way. Empty nest syndrome?

Chula Vista, California, U.S.A.:January 13, 2001 (reported 1/21/01)

Location_Description: Outside a local indoor shopping mall, bordered by open areas of chapparal, various trees, shrubs and a small stream. The open area is bordered on the west by a freeway.

Behavior: Dusk, leaving the mall. The orange sunset was practically obliterated by the amazing amount of crows flying to roost. There were crows in all the trees in the parking lot, on signs, on roofs, across a small street where a small stream and chapparal still exists. Observed for at least 10 minutes of an awesome display of crows still arriving. There had to be 100,000 at least. Typcial vocalizations with an occasional odd (to me) call that sounded like a "wooden chime". Perhaps calling to family members. Plenty of artificial light from the mall. Good food and water source for daily foraging. Typically, in this area, there are few crows, more ravens(have been observing one family for four years). Because of recent loss of habitat due to urban expansion, increased number of birds of prey and overlapping territories. The crows picked the safest place to allow themselves an "edge" with the owls in this area.

Comments: My comment, not scientific, but "amazing and awesome". We had recent weather change, snow in low mountain areas, rain and frost. Been watching birds for many years and never have I been "allowed" to observe such a wonder. Perhaps the weather brought them in from the colder areas. Have witnessed much smaller roosts, never to this extent. (Vanessa)

Lakewood, California: Current (Reported 4/2/00)

Location_Description: Neighborhood of single family homes, near Long Beach, CA.

Behavior: I have a pet crow that I rescued 2 years ago while she was still very young. I am the only person she will allow to handle her. She is very loving, protective and has such a wonderful personality. She is outside during the day, and comes in at night to sleep. She loves water and taking baths is a big fav pastime.

Comments: I have a very close relationship with this intelligent and exciting creature. During the day she has her crow friends that come over and caw loudly at me until they are fed! If i take a walk around the neighborhood, they'll caw at me until i return home so that i can feed them. I will always have clean water out so that they can clean and moisten their food before eating. I believe they are extremely smart...they sure have me well-trained! (Julie Woods)

Vista, California: March 17, 2000

I have many crows around my home. I have several kinds of doves and quail. During the season of my quails laying eggs, I have been able to make some friends with the crows. They know what time I usually go out into the garden and collect the quail eggs. I always put a few in the same spot and gradually they have gotten to trust me. I was hoping that they would eventually eat out of my hand. But it never happened. My quail have started laying eggs again, and I think the same three crows are benefiting again from the eggs. They are perching in the same places gradually coming down to the eggs as I leave. I have fun with them. (Linda R. Herzog)

San Francisco, California: February 10, 2000

Location_Description: A large, empty concrete reservior used for parking at City College of San Francisco.

I have been taking classes at CCSF for the past few years and noticed that it is a crow haven. Normally, on my way from the parking reservior to the campus just across the road, I have noticed crows in the reservior, sometimes gathering in large groups on the ground (which is composed of concrete). About a week ago from the time of this submission, while studying in my car at around 10:30 am, I noticed a group of about a dozen crows congregated on a 45 degree incline plane seperating the two parking reserviors. The main group contained about ten crows huddled closely together. About five feet away from this group were three crows huddled close. Suddenly one of these three confidently strode into the center of the larger huddle, head held high and, each other crow looked intently at it as it walked through their group. As soon as it had passed trough the group it took flight and about 90% of the grounded crows immediately followed it. I found this behavior somehow fascinating.

Yesterday I finished a book by research psychologist Theodore Barber on avian consciousness and thought I just might seize this rich crow environment in the parking reservior as an opportunity to find out more about these attractive animals. The campus itself has many trees on its grounds and crows are numerous there as well.

Today, 2/10/00, I brought food (English muffins, chocolate chip cookies, and Doritos) along with me but when I arrived in the parking reservior at 10:00 am it was raining and no crows were noted, only a few seagulls standing in an empty quadrant of the parking area. After class at around 3:30 pm I noticed a few crows lounging around the meridian that seperates the Southern (where I usually park) and Northern reserviors and decided to attempt contact. I drove and parked next to the inclined meridian seperating the two reserviors where the crows where located and stood by my car with the bag of food at the ready. I noticed some gulls flying not too far in the distance and knew they would soon spot any morsel offered and make a scene. There were about six crows standing on the incline of the meridian from 15 to 30 yards from where I was. I tried whistling to attract their attention but I was completely ignored. I took a cookie and waved it around and the nearest two crows turned to observe me. I then tossed the cookie near them and they immediately took off in flight only to settle immediately back down. Before the cookie could stop rolling a gull swooped down and made off with it. No other gulls seemed near so I launched another cookie closer to where the crows were to encourage them and again they started in flight, but settled back down quickly. One did skip over to the cookie, took it up and took flight. By this time the commotion had attracted the gulls and I could see them approaching from all quarters. Also, small blackbirds, starlings I think, began to congregate near the rear of my car peering with eagerness to get in on the feast. I decided to toss food nearby in front of me, about three or four feet, but the only birds who seemed interested were the starlings, confident enough in their agility to approach near to me. By now a dozen or so seagulls had lit between the starlings and the crows so I tossed some English muffin out among them to see if the crows would compete with them. The seagulls were {section missing}.. I will continue this activity on the Tuesdays and Thursdays I take classes and will record what I can. My idea is to approach them on a regular basis and whistle two notes before each food toss. I will attempt less obvious tosses to avoid early notice by gulls and see what develops over time. (Earl Dennis)

Los Angeles, California: 11/19/99

Location_Description: The Village Green in Baldwin Hills section of Los Angeles off Rodeo and between La Cienaga and La Brea. It is a condominium complex with large open grass areas interspersed with huge 50 year old trees.

Behavior: This may be a possible roost. For the two years I've lived here, each year crows have collected just as darkness came. We watched them fly in in groups of 20-30 at dusk. There seemed to be birds stationed in trees along the way as the groups came in who would caw like landing lights at an airport and then follow them when the groups dwindled. I have hundreds of crow feathers I have collected from the ground under the big trees so preening is a big thing on their list. That may help indicate whether it's a roost or a staging area.

Comments: They are not in the process of "roosting" here now, but I will let you know when it starts. We do have crows that live here year-round but it increases significantly during two months of the year. (Alinda Lord)

(This section will be added to on a continuing basis. Your comments and suggestions are welcomed. Other parts of the site are also under construction. This site will be continually expanding as the Project grows.)

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