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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Birds 
Thread started 06 Sep 2011 (Tuesday) 10:12
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Eating crow...

 
Kevan
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Sep 06, 2011 10:12 |  #1

I'm in the process of befriending a neighborhood crow and I'm not above addicting it to my oatmeal raisin cookies in order to buy its friendship. Things are progressing nicely and I was able to introduce my camera yesterday to the scene without making the bird overly nervous.

From all the G Series challenges I've participated in here at POTN, swinging around bicycle lights at night in the front yard, to placing dozens of drinking glasses out on our gravel driveway, spraying them with the garden hose, my neighbors have come to learn that this is an odd house. Or at the very least...I am. So everyday, about late morning time, I walk out onto our front porch and start mouthing a loud clacking sound that I hope the crow will associate with my cookie offering time. I think it's a female, based on its behavior, by the way she hordes the cookie pieces and flies off consistently towards where she roosts/nests, but who knows? Sometimes her mate hangs out nearby, but only the one bird comes down to pick up the morsels. I listen for their nearby caws and walk outside, start my clacking and the cookie crumbs start getting tossed.

So I thought I'd start cataloging some of our meetings. Take pictures, test her nerve by shorting some of my tosses, but basically get the bird to recognize I'm someone it can trust. Crows are so smart and I've been watching this pair for over a year. They once tried to establish a nest in our yard, but selected a bad spot that had become sort of a squirrel super highway as the rodents navigate from tree to tree. The birds simply weren't getting the peace they needed. Boy, was I bummed when they deserted their nest and went elsewhere. There is a large patch of woods behind the homes across the street and that is generally the direction she heads towards, with her beak crammed full of cookie.

I'll occasionally fortify this thread when new and interesting events and photos occur. Come winter time, It's my hope that eventually I can just open my office window a crack and provide my clacking, toss some cookie chunks, and take some photos from the comfort of my office chair. Now how cool would that be?

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grendel64
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Sep 06, 2011 10:32 |  #2

Hey Kevan...I'll be watching with interest. I too have a real affinity for the local corvids and spend my winters feeding the ravens that show up after the crows have moved further south. I keep a big bag of the cheapest dog food I can find (I use Old Roy from walmart, it seems to work just fine)...good luck with the befriending...
Mike


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Kevan
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Sep 06, 2011 10:54 |  #3

Now a raven would be soooo freakin' awesome. Alas, the big cousin doesn't hang out in these parts. The upside, it's a lot quieter around here for it.

I'm thinking I should have posted this thread under birds. Oops!


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TheFloridaShooter
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Sep 06, 2011 14:42 |  #4

Kevan - nice job! I'm hand feeding some humminbirds that are coming to the feeders. They will land on my hand and feed, some hover.


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Kevan
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Sep 07, 2011 11:34 |  #5

There appears to be a disturbance in the crow's force this morning. I suspect rival crows have flown into my pair's 'hood, causing my pal a distraction. The rain has decreased considerably, so it's a go with the camera again.

I've been hearing my pair cawing off and on all morning so I went downstairs and grabbed half an oatmeal cookie, giving the other half to my pug dog Lucy who is equally addicted, as me, and now the poor bird to these damn things!

Anyway, I stepped outside and placed the cookie down on the porch rail deciding to go back inside to retrieve a towel to dry off my porch-perch, before sitting down. When I got back to the door to head out, the crow was already making her moves toward the unattended cookie, but startled, flew away a few feet away, knowing the goodies were about to be delivered anyway. I think she's beginning to trust me. I managed to squeeze off a couple shots using my 17-55mm, but she grabbed the two pieces tossed and suddenly flew off. I'm left wondering if she doesn't want the other crows in the area to find out about me as a food source.

She and her mate then flew across the street and seemed to be mixing it up with other crows with lots of loud calls going back and forth. So with the cookie I had left, I tossed the remaining pieces up on the porch roof, near my office window, and will see if she's willing to swing by the drive-by window. I did some clucking sounds from my open window, but I think I just might have scared her away with this new delivery approach. Rain has picked up a little; the morsels are getting soggy. My camera's cocked and ready here inside, but I suspect this will have to be continued tomorrow.

I'm wondering how old this bird is. Near each shoulder there are exposed quills showing. Signs of fighting or simply old age? I suspect age. My guess is the pair has been around here for about 3 years, but I'm not sure. I think I'll name her Quill.

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Rolfe ­ D. ­ Wolfe
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Sep 07, 2011 11:51 as a reply to  @ Kevan's post |  #6

Wow this is one of the coolest thing's i have seen.

I would love to work out a similar experiment in my backyard as i just got my camera but winter is on it's way.

I might have to see what i can do.

I shall be following this thread, good stuf Kevan!


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Kevan
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Sep 07, 2011 12:14 |  #7

Rolfe, I'm only 40 miles north of you. Winter is going to be here before you. LOL


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Rolfe ­ D. ­ Wolfe
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Sep 07, 2011 12:20 as a reply to  @ Kevan's post |  #8

Lol that is very true Kevan.


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Kevan
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Sep 08, 2011 11:06 |  #9

Am I sensing a lot more cawing in the yard during the morning?

I am attempting to establish a routine with Quill where I will walk out late mornings and offer her a half a cookie. I think she's attempting to get my attention earlier by calling out, but I'm sticking to our schedule. I don't intend to be her food supply, just offer a regular treat. There are plenty of squirrels around here that didn't make it safely across the street, requiring clean up, my neighbors had better do a better job securing their garbage bags, and there all those other bugs and birds she can pick on. Let's not be naive here, crows are opportunists and omnivores, and not exactly the most pleasantest of birds when it comes right down to it.

Quill is quite attentive to where I toss the crumbs. The pieces of cookie I had tossed up on the porch roof yesterday, near my office window, were definitely nagging her. She wanted them, but wasn't at all happy with the fact that my window was open so the crumbs stayed and got soaked in the rain. Later in afternoon, my son needed a lift to the train station and when I came back to the house I could see Quill making quick work in cleaning up what was left on the roof. She had spied us, from up in a stand of young maples, when my son and I walked out of the house and headed towards the car. When she saw us drive away, she knew the coast was clear.

IMAGE: http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6188/6126949591_ecab3e965a_b.jpg

Maybe I should define my front yard. There is little to no grass due little to no top soil, and abundance of trees. So instead, we've got lots of moss. There are a couple large mature maples, three pine trees that some idiot had planted some 20 years ago that are now mixing it up with the maples in their canopy above, a mature Japanese maple to the right of our entry, that's where Quill is awkwardly perched in the photo above in post #5, and then a monstrous oak in the side yard. Sunlight is hard to come by around here.

In the photo below, you can see the exposed quills I mentioned earlier. Quill was pretty nervous attempting to grab the morsel in the foreground, not 6 feet away from me. She sort of waddles when she walks, but has she approached this piece she turned sideways and did a sidestep creep. She ultimately decided against it and flew off. With her gone, I retrieved the piece and tossed it up on the roof near my office window. I don't think I was back in my office chair for 5 minutes when she came swooping in and nearly grabbed it on the fly. Later, she came waddling along the roof's gutter line just checking me out and seeing if there were anymore pieces to be had. Nope, not until tomorrow.

IMAGE: http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6070/6126948173_f734329d7d_b.jpg

During the evening yesterday, Quill came and perched on the Japanese Maple that has a branch close to the porch roof and offers an excellent view inside the office window. I was on the phone at the time and Quill was behaving pretty funny listening in on my conversation, cocking her head from side to side. As soon as I picked up the camera to try capture her, she was off. I'll try again.

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Kevan
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Sep 08, 2011 14:51 |  #10

Moments ago:

Quill using the fly-by window to place her order:

IMAGE: http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6090/6127637513_2171b59746_b.jpg

Dissatisfied with my response, she moves on:

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Kevan
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Sep 11, 2011 10:59 |  #11

Well, this is indeed a proud moment. The crow I decided to befriend is apparently a greaser. I have no idea what she has gotten into, nor do I want to know. Initially, I thought she might have gotten into a fight, losing some feathers in the process, but no...it looks like she took a dive into someone's bacon fat. Or worse...

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kiss-o-matic
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Sep 13, 2011 00:33 |  #12

Kevan_G9 wrote in post #13084724 (external link)
Well, this is indeed a proud moment. The crow I decided to befriend is apparently a greaser. I have no idea what she has gotten into, nor do I want to know. Initially, I thought she might have gotten into a fight, losing some feathers in the process, but no...it looks like she took a dive into someone's bacon fat. Or worse...

Google around -- crows are way smarter than people give them credit for. There was a TED talk on them recently. They actually have problem solving skills. Your crow most likely did what all her cousins in Japan have been doing for ages: trash diving. Most of the trash bags here have to have a net over them or the crows will get in and make a mess.

I have a series of a couple of crows swiping some food from a couple of old people in the park. One distracted, the other went in for the kill. A beautiful plan! The ones here are huge though... a team of them could carry off a small child.

EDIT: Ted Link (external link)




  
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Kevan
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Sep 13, 2011 08:06 |  #13

Thanks, kiss. That link is very entertaining. And you're right, they are surprisingly brilliant and resourceful birds.

Several years ago while walking to the train to go to work I witnessed two crows on the ground fighting it out viciously. This was a serious confrontation and I got the sense it was a no holds barred event. Above them was a congress, also referred to as a murder, of crows cawing at these two gladiators. There were dozens of birds up in the trees and only the two fighters down on the ground having at it. It was a loud and violent event and I really didn't want to witness the conclusion so moved on. I continued my walk thinking just how similar their society is to our own.


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kiss-o-matic
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Sep 13, 2011 20:09 |  #14

I continued my walk thinking just how similar their society is to our own.

I've seen that only once here in Tokyo, and as any resident will tell you, there is no shortage of crows. In fact, the city sometimes rob the nests of eggs to keep the populations down. This was a pretty brutal event, but was over quickly. Not a lot of confrontation in Japanese society though, so perhaps our environment rubs off on theirs. I did see two of them picking on a turtle that wandered his way into the main part of the park where I jog. I went back and put him on his merry way. Maybe me messing up the food chain, but I like turtles.

I'll try to find one of my pics and contribute to the thread. I have no doubt... it's their turn when we've blown ourselves up. :D




  
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Kevan
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Oct 18, 2011 14:08 |  #15

Update: Sadly, Quill broke off our palship about a month ago. I avoided reporting this earlier here because I kept hoping she would return for our one-on-one visits. When she made herself scarce, I continued to toss bits of cookie on the lawn and up near the office window, on the front porch roof, and she came by to grab the bits, but there was no more lingering around. I eventually stopped the offerings.

I'm left wondering why this happened. Was it all too much too soon for her? Did her mate not approve? Was it an act of the crow's congress?

I dunno.


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