“They were relentless, brilliant scavengers with a keen sense of craftiness, and no human being could outwit them. The kind of cunning mischief and competition that a murder of crows possessed was unbeatable.” ―
My roommate has developed a close personal relationship with the neighborhood crows. First she started putting out water for them. Then food. And now they’re starting to communicate with her. It’s cool. Or creepy, depending on how you feel about crows.
“I went outside to walk the dog,” she told me today. “And a crow buzzed just over the top of my head. They were telling me they were hungry.”
I might have thought she was imaging things if I hadn’t seen their fixation with her myself. They clearly know my roommate, and can tell the difference between her and the others in the house. I’ve seen them respond to her, making eye contact or cawing. And when she’s not around, I could swear they are looking for her.
The crows pay no attention to me, but when she leaves the house they’re like, “Hey lady! Where’s our damn food?” Once I left for work and a group of crows were staring at the house like they were casing the place. They had no interest in me. I texted her from the driveway and told her that she had visitors.
Hearing about her close encounter today made me curious: what is up with these crows?
It turns out that crows are extremely smart, and very social. Crows can differentiate between humans and recognize familiar faces. They can identify people who feed them, and track their schedules so they appear when they know that person will be around. They prefer a fixed feeding schedule so they know when to stop by. And they have a wide range of vocalizations, with different sounds for mating, danger, and “it’s dinner time.” Often it seems like they are talking to people. Clearly they’re saying to my roommate, “Feed me! Bring me a beer!”
“Oh my god, our house is like a biker bar for crows,” I told my roommate when I read that. “It’s a crow bar.” (I know, I am hilarious. I bet you wish you lived with me too.)
Crows don’t just care about food, they also care about their buddies. If a crow dies, other crows will circle around them not only to mourn, but to figure out how the crow died. Seriously, it’s like they are little Columbos, fighting for justice for their murdered friends. (Note to younger readers: Columbo was an awesome and clever detective on TV).
Crows are omnivores, but they have definite tastes. They are particularly fond of fast food, eggs, peanuts, fruits, pasta and bugs. Once my roommate put out stale rice krispies for the crows and they were totally annoyed, cawing and circling and fussing until she took out some Trader Joe’s trail mix. That they liked. Besides stale rice krispies, they’re also not fond of apple seeds, onions, mushrooms.
There have even been stories that crows have brought little gifts for their human friends like shiny baubles, ribbons and acorn caps. So far my roommate hasn’t received any gifts from the crows. I guess she needs to start offering better treats at the Crow Bar.
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