Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crazy for Crows!

Thanks to a Sunday afternoon FB post by Wildcare, I watched "A Murder of Crows" on PBS that night.  I've long loved these glossy black birds -- and particularly treasure a painting of a crow Joe gave for Christmas one year, by local artist Peta Sanderson (that's the painting above!).

I've never understood why people have such a problem with these beauties, and now, thanks to wildlife biologists, here's evidence of their stunning intelligence. Tool using! Face recognition! Multiple languages! Passing what they've learned on to their young! Yes, folks, crows, it turns out, are a LOT like us.

When I mentioned the program to one of my Mammalogy classmates, she paid me back with the following true story she'd just heard from a woman she was hiking with on the weekend. Apparently, this woman, who lives out in the country somewhere in the western part of the county, was outside her home. A crow landed right in front of her and started cawing at her like mad, then flew off. The woman stood there a bit puzzled. Strange behavior, right? The crow returned, carrying on and vocalizing at her like there was no tomorrow, then flew off again. And a third time. Each time, the crow would fly off to the same location. Finally, following the fourth time, the woman thought, ok, let's see. She walked over, under the tree where the crow had perched. Right there, stuck in her fence, she found a fawn. Which, naturally, using her hands, the woman freed.

That's the kind of thing that gives me goosebumps. That's the kind of story that makes my day, that lives on in my mind, carrying me through all sorts of other situations, filling me with wonder and excitement and pure thrill at being alive and sharing this space with such wondrous creatures.

About whom we still have so much to learn. As a dedicated student, I am so happy about how much we don't know, how much we have yet to learn, through humility and observation and the maintenance of an open mind.

Watch this!

Watch the full episode. See more Nature.

1 comment:

Marge said...

Ariane, That was a great blog. I especially love your comparison between crows and humans! Priceless! The story may be slightly changed in the telling but I got goosebumps when I heard it first-hand last week and I got goosebumps reading it in your blog. The point is that crows and ravens are very, very intelligent. I can't wait to watch the PBS show re crows! Marge :~)