My name is Jenn and I love corvids. I study wild American crows and am constantly impressed by them, even after years of working with them. My goal on this blog is to spread the corvid love by sharing information and dispelling common myths.

Feel free to ask me anything :)

These are truly some of the most fascinating birds on the planet!

 

Hi there!

I just got an influx of followers, wow!  Thank you so much to all my new, and old, watchers!!  Out of curiosity, are all you new followers coming from a single source?  If not, still mind letting me know how you found the blog?

A juvenile western jackdaw (Corvus monedula spermologus) is served water by some nice humans in Supetar, Croatia.

While jackdaws are still listed as in the genus Corvus (with other crows) in most literature, many workers argue that the two species of jackdaw (western, C. monedula, and daurian, C. dauuricus) should be in their own genus Coloeus.  Indeed, they have long been listed in the ‘sub-genus’ Coloeus and a 2007 paper looking at the genetic diversity, using mitochondrial DNA of certain species of corvids, supports the assertion that jackdaws should be in their own genus.  In fact, the International Ornithological Union and Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide by Rasmussen and Anderton both list them as genus Coloeus.

Semantics aside, these small corvids have long been recognized as being morphologically distinct from the rest of the genus Corvus.  They are small (the smallest of genus Corvus) and very sociable; as evidenced by this video.  They are a common urban bird and thrive just as well in human dominated landscapes as they do in remote landscapes, like a number of other corvids.  However, jackdaws also differ from other crows in that they nest in crevices/holes, much to the distress of many a chimney-owner.

And while I’m on the topic of crows that are proposed as distinct from the others, another sub-genus, Corvultur, has been previously proposed for the fan-tailed raven (C. rhipidurus), white-necked raven (C. albicollis), and thick-billed raven (C. crassirostris) due to their close geographical relationship and unusually thick bills.  However, this division is not very robust, and a 2012 study placed white-necked and thick-billed ravens as closely related, but fan-taileds sorted out closer to pied crows (C. albus) and then common ravens (C. corax) and brown-necked ravens (C. ruficollis).  However, unlike the Corvultur, both jackdaw species still remained very distinct from the rest of genus Corvus, forming the most basal group.

All of that said…I hope you enjoy this video of a jackdaw getting a nice cool drink of water after coercing some primates into opening a bottle and pouring a cap-full for it.

howtoskinatiger:

A brown bear filmed at Budapest zoo saving a crow from drowning. 

Color me legitimately surprised.  It would have been extremely easy for the bear to just chomp, bat, or smash the hooded crow.

I’m fond of how utterly confused the crow is.

This only increases my thoughts on what unique behaviors animals exhibit when their basic needs are met daily.  Captivity leads to a lot of behaviors we don’t really see in the wild, and I think it has to do with the ability to devote time and brain power to pursuits other than survival.

Interesting!

Edit:  Additionally, the grabbing behavior was very predatory, but if you see a human catch a bird, with no intent of eating it, it is also very predatory. Grabbing another animal in general is rather predatory.

I’m not guessing at the bear’s intent, but I am definitely surprised by the outcome :)

This is a reply to my correction of the source page for the incorrect NowYouKno “fact”.
I appreciate you pointing out this distinction, though manufacture versus use is sort of a continuum, depending on how we are defining “manufacture”.  It is true that New Caledonian crows are amazing tool makers (something I give lectures about on a nearly annual basis when I talk about animal culture), but more than three species make tools.  Chimpanzees, of course, are tool makers, along with documentation of manufacture in orangutans, mandrills, and Asian elephants.  This is leaving out animals that develop tools or can be taught to develop tools in captivity (ex. bonobos, hyacinth macaws, and a Goffin’s cockatoo, just to name a few).  Also depending on how complex the manufacture, gorillas have been observed breaking off large sticks for stabilization, woodpecker finches have to break off cactus spines to use them (and more recently they are modifying non-native blackberry spines), and bottle-nosed dolphins have to select and break sponges off their substrate to use them.  I still assert that we will probably find a lot more tool use and manufacture in the wild, the more chances we get to observe different species in the wild.  There are certainly many anecdotal and incidental observations of many more species creating and using tools.  However, what you have to keep in mind is that if an animal gets along fine without making and using tools, then there’s not point in them doing so.  Tool manufacture and modification, while really cool to us, isn’t always necessary for other animals.  In chimpanzees and humans, for example, tool use is integral in how we forage and exist in the world, but for other species tool manufacture and use may only be needed on occasion, when a situation calls for it.
In the case of New Caledonian crows, they, like woodpecker finches, live in places that lack woodpeckers.  This is significant because it leaves open the niche that specializes in locating, removing, and eating wood boring insects.  Rather than spending the time to evolve physical adaptations to do this (like woodpeckers have) these two species use tools to the same ends.  Arguably, there is a distinction between woodpecker finches (which are actually most likely in the tanager family, despite the common name) and New Caledonian crows when it comes to the cognitive department. 
What happens when nature takes a bird, already a part of a large-brained, cognitively complex genus of birds (Corvus) and puts it on an island that has a goldmine of a niche to fill?  You get the incredible New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides).
(Photo copyright Jolyon Troscianko)
Drs. Russell Gray and Gavin Hunt observed these birds in the wild manufacturing and using tools.  The earliest documented account of tool us in NC crows was by an explorer who reported the use of anvil sites to crack open nuts and snails in 1882.  In 1909 Le Goupils observed NC crows probing a dead log with a stick-tool (reported in 1928) and Orenstein gave a more detailed report on crow tool-use in 1972, but it was Hunt (his first study published in 1996) and Gray who brought attention to these incredible corvids and who still do work on them today.  In 2000, birds were taken from New Caledonia and sent to England to be studied by Alex Kacelnik's Behavioral Ecology Research Group (BERG) at the University of Oxford.  Two of these birds were Betty and Abel.  Betty blew the minds of the world when she spontaneously bent a metal wire into a hook to retrieve food after Abel made off with the hooked tool.
Part of the reason the NC crows were brought into captivity by Kacelnik was to see if the tool behaviors were innate or due to complex cognition and problem solving, or even if they were cultural as Gray and Hunt suggested.  The BERG found that young NC crows, with no training or example, had a proclivity for tearing materials and probing holes with other objects.
So if the birds could manufacture and use tools completely on their own, what makes them more noteworthy than woodpecker finches or other animals that innately use tools?  What makes them rival and often exceed chimps in the cognitive department?  Tradition, the understanding of the functional properties of their tools, innovative use of tools, and cumulative tool evolution all combine to make NC crows stars in the world of animal cognition.
Gray and Hunt found that different tool types were being used by NC crows in different regions of New Caledonia.  These tool types were not reproduced by Kacelnik’s captive crows, which lends more support to those tools’ forms being based on a tradition, or culture, rather than just a genetic ability to make them (after all, humans babble as a precursor to language).  NC crows also understand the functional properties of the tools they use and make.  They use a range of materials and techniques for making tools, demonstrating that it’s the crow that decides on the tool, not the material.  Understanding of the functional properties of their tool was also demonstrated by Betty bending the wire, and again in further experiments.  One experiment even showed that the crows could determine the rigidity of tools that would be appropriate for a task.  Finally, NC crows show cumulative tool evolution, something we humans still clung to as unique to us.  Cumulative tool evolution is the ability to take a tool and modify it to a different or better function and build on previous technology.  The tools that were created by precisely snipping and tearing Pandanus spp. tree leaves (the form of which were not replicated by Kacelnik’s captive birds) showed strong evidence of enhancement over time.  Hunt and Gray found and compared tool types and their functions from all over the island, including historical records of negatives left in leaves up to four years old.  Their findings suggest that the Pandanus tools have had significant improvement on their shape and function.  If this doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will!!
Researchers have since found evidence of cumulative tool evolution in chimpanzees as well.  And thus, the battle for most cognitively complex non-human tool user rages on between chimpanzees and NC crows.  In recent years, the ability to use tools to get tools (or meta-tool use) has been a focus of attention, with several studies demonstrating that NC crows can figure out what tool they need for a task, and use other tools to get the appropriate tool (here’s a video).  There have also been studies into the brains of New Caledonian crows, among other cognitive work that shows that these birds are truly complex animals that blur the line between human and non-human intelligence and understanding of the world around them.  Click here for The University of Auckland’s page on NC Crow research still run by Gray and Hunt, and here for a list of their publications which go well beyond what I’ve related to you here.  Both researchers at The University of Auckland and The University of Oxford are continuing work on these birds, so you should keep an eye out for their continued publications and findings.
I’m a huge fan of NC crows, if it wasn’t apparent.  One of my most treasured possessions is a genuine Pandanus tool made by a New Caledonian crow.  I even had one of Hunt and Gray’s papers signed (how big of a nerd can I be?), but that was sadly destroyed in a flood.  It is a life goal to make it to New Caledonia and observe these birds in the wild.  Thank you Pamela Turner for giving me an excuse to blather about NC crows and I hope all of you who read this now appreciate them as much as I do!

This is a reply to my correction of the source page for the incorrect NowYouKno “fact”.

I appreciate you pointing out this distinction, though manufacture versus use is sort of a continuum, depending on how we are defining “manufacture”.  It is true that New Caledonian crows are amazing tool makers (something I give lectures about on a nearly annual basis when I talk about animal culture), but more than three species make tools.  Chimpanzees, of course, are tool makers, along with documentation of manufacture in orangutans, mandrills, and Asian elephants.  This is leaving out animals that develop tools or can be taught to develop tools in captivity (ex. bonobos, hyacinth macaws, and a Goffin’s cockatoo, just to name a few).  Also depending on how complex the manufacture, gorillas have been observed breaking off large sticks for stabilization, woodpecker finches have to break off cactus spines to use them (and more recently they are modifying non-native blackberry spines), and bottle-nosed dolphins have to select and break sponges off their substrate to use them.  I still assert that we will probably find a lot more tool use and manufacture in the wild, the more chances we get to observe different species in the wild.  There are certainly many anecdotal and incidental observations of many more species creating and using tools.  However, what you have to keep in mind is that if an animal gets along fine without making and using tools, then there’s not point in them doing so.  Tool manufacture and modification, while really cool to us, isn’t always necessary for other animals.  In chimpanzees and humans, for example, tool use is integral in how we forage and exist in the world, but for other species tool manufacture and use may only be needed on occasion, when a situation calls for it.

In the case of New Caledonian crows, they, like woodpecker finches, live in places that lack woodpeckers.  This is significant because it leaves open the niche that specializes in locating, removing, and eating wood boring insects.  Rather than spending the time to evolve physical adaptations to do this (like woodpeckers have) these two species use tools to the same ends.  Arguably, there is a distinction between woodpecker finches (which are actually most likely in the tanager family, despite the common name) and New Caledonian crows when it comes to the cognitive department. 

What happens when nature takes a bird, already a part of a large-brained, cognitively complex genus of birds (Corvus) and puts it on an island that has a goldmine of a niche to fill?  You get the incredible New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides).


(Photo copyright Jolyon Troscianko)

Drs. Russell Gray and Gavin Hunt observed these birds in the wild manufacturing and using tools.  The earliest documented account of tool us in NC crows was by an explorer who reported the use of anvil sites to crack open nuts and snails in 1882.  In 1909 Le Goupils observed NC crows probing a dead log with a stick-tool (reported in 1928) and Orenstein gave a more detailed report on crow tool-use in 1972, but it was Hunt (his first study published in 1996) and Gray who brought attention to these incredible corvids and who still do work on them today.  In 2000, birds were taken from New Caledonia and sent to England to be studied by Alex Kacelnik's Behavioral Ecology Research Group (BERG) at the University of Oxford.  Two of these birds were Betty and Abel.  Betty blew the minds of the world when she spontaneously bent a metal wire into a hook to retrieve food after Abel made off with the hooked tool.

Part of the reason the NC crows were brought into captivity by Kacelnik was to see if the tool behaviors were innate or due to complex cognition and problem solving, or even if they were cultural as Gray and Hunt suggested.  The BERG found that young NC crows, with no training or example, had a proclivity for tearing materials and probing holes with other objects.

So if the birds could manufacture and use tools completely on their own, what makes them more noteworthy than woodpecker finches or other animals that innately use tools?  What makes them rival and often exceed chimps in the cognitive department?  Tradition, the understanding of the functional properties of their tools, innovative use of tools, and cumulative tool evolution all combine to make NC crows stars in the world of animal cognition.

Gray and Hunt found that different tool types were being used by NC crows in different regions of New Caledonia.  These tool types were not reproduced by Kacelnik’s captive crows, which lends more support to those tools’ forms being based on a tradition, or culture, rather than just a genetic ability to make them (after all, humans babble as a precursor to language).  NC crows also understand the functional properties of the tools they use and make.  They use a range of materials and techniques for making tools, demonstrating that it’s the crow that decides on the tool, not the material.  Understanding of the functional properties of their tool was also demonstrated by Betty bending the wire, and again in further experiments.  One experiment even showed that the crows could determine the rigidity of tools that would be appropriate for a task.  Finally, NC crows show cumulative tool evolution, something we humans still clung to as unique to us.  Cumulative tool evolution is the ability to take a tool and modify it to a different or better function and build on previous technology.  The tools that were created by precisely snipping and tearing Pandanus spp. tree leaves (the form of which were not replicated by Kacelnik’s captive birds) showed strong evidence of enhancement over time.  Hunt and Gray found and compared tool types and their functions from all over the island, including historical records of negatives left in leaves up to four years old.  Their findings suggest that the Pandanus tools have had significant improvement on their shape and functionIf this doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will!!

Researchers have since found evidence of cumulative tool evolution in chimpanzees as well.  And thus, the battle for most cognitively complex non-human tool user rages on between chimpanzees and NC crows.  In recent years, the ability to use tools to get tools (or meta-tool use) has been a focus of attention, with several studies demonstrating that NC crows can figure out what tool they need for a task, and use other tools to get the appropriate tool (here’s a video).  There have also been studies into the brains of New Caledonian crows, among other cognitive work that shows that these birds are truly complex animals that blur the line between human and non-human intelligence and understanding of the world around them.  Click here for The University of Auckland’s page on NC Crow research still run by Gray and Hunt, and here for a list of their publications which go well beyond what I’ve related to you here.  Both researchers at The University of Auckland and The University of Oxford are continuing work on these birds, so you should keep an eye out for their continued publications and findings.

I’m a huge fan of NC crows, if it wasn’t apparent.  One of my most treasured possessions is a genuine Pandanus tool made by a New Caledonian crow.  I even had one of Hunt and Gray’s papers signed (how big of a nerd can I be?), but that was sadly destroyed in a flood.  It is a life goal to make it to New Caledonia and observe these birds in the wild.  Thank you Pamela Turner for giving me an excuse to blather about NC crows and I hope all of you who read this now appreciate them as much as I do!

dragoslair asked
This is totally going to be the "OMG I love your blog!" message. Sorry (or not?). I just found it, and instantly fell in love. I love all birds, but I have a soft spot for ravens&co, I lived for a while in a place full of ravens, but in my hometown there are none (literally! no ravens!) ;(. so your blog makes me happy, and I actually may learn something useful, which is always a good thing :) Ugh, sorry for the word vomit. Anyway, thank you!

Awww, thank you so much!  Encouraging words mean the world to me.  I’m glad you like the blog and super glad you like corvids! :)

nowyoukno:

Source for more facts follow NowYouKno

This will be the second time I’m correcting a NowYouKno “fact”.  This is not true and the source has a lot of inaccuracies.  I would really like to see NowYouKno getting these “facts” from legitimate sources, not random people on the internet.  Legitimate sources include primary literature, general academic resources, and actual experts in the field.  Chamberlain documented calls from crows with an often cited study looking at 23 of them.  Crow vocal anatomy makes them capable of many unique sounds and combinations thereof (including human speech mimicry), and I’m sure they are capable of hundreds of unique sounds, but the 250 number seems to be pulled from absolutely nothing.  The best I can tell this “fact” may have spread from the "A Murder of Crows" documentary website on Nature.com (we worked with this film crew, actually, they are not crow experts or biologists, just interested in making a documentary).  Perhaps someone got excited an added a zero?  I don’t know.
Okay, now let’s correct some more incorrect information from the source that NowYouKno used.
They are commonly arboreal, but frequently jet-setters. They are opportunistic feeders, diligent scavengers, and feared succubi.
Arboreal means an animal lives in trees…I’m not sure why this is included?  Perhaps because crows nest in trees?  I have no idea what a “jet-setter” is, so I can’t comment on that.  …feared succubi?  What?
This is hardly a problem for them, as they can live to be nearly 15 years old.
Well, actually they can live longer than that.  Our oldest males were 19 before they disappeared, the oldest documented wild crow was 29, and the oldest documented crow in captivity was 59.
They got their breeding biology correct, hooray!  Crows are cooperative breeders (not “communal breeders”) that mate for life (though infidelity in the mating department is not uncommon).
This column will highlight the history and peculiarities of the Crow and its sister types (Ravens, Corbies, Jackdaws, Rooks, and Magpies to name a few).
This statement is confusing.  Crow is the general term for birds in the genus Corvus, which makes ravens (Corvus corax), jackdaws (Corvus monedula) and rooks (Corvus frugilegus) all different species of crows.  Corbies is not a type of crow, “corbie” is a Scottish word meaning raven, crow, or rook.  Magpies, assuming they mean those from genus Pica, Cyanopica, Cissa, and Urocissa, are indeed related to crows.
Okay, let’s break down the “facts” at the bottom of the source:
Crows are found on every continent except Antarctica.
False!  Crows (Corvus) are not found in South America either (other corvids are).
Crows have an exceptional ability to remember and pick a single human face out of a crowd.
True!
Crows are far more likely to be found living close to cities and suburbs than out in the country.
False!  Crows live in rural habitats just as easily as they do in suburbs and cities.  Crows live in more dense populations around human habitats, because a smaller territory in a human area can yield more food than a territory of the same size in a rural area.  However, they are only going to be observed more often because there are more humans to observe them.
Each generation of crows is capable of building on an earlier generation’s knowledge.
True!  This is what I study.
New Caledonian crows are one of only three species, besides human, in the world capable of making tools.
False!  While NC crows are amazing tool users that show cumulative tool evolution in the wild, they are certainly not one of only three non-human species that use tools.  Off the top of my head I can list chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, many species of macaque, capuchin monkeys, bottle-nosed dolphins and other cetaceans, woodpecker finches, sea otters, black cockatoos, and octopi, to name a few!  I’m sure as we continue to observe animals in the wild, more tool users will emerge.
Crows live with a mated pair, their kids, and offspring from previous years in an extended family.
True!  This is called cooperative breeding, and is not unique to crows (we are cooperative breeders).
Crows have different warning calls – one for cats, and one for hawks, and another for humans – 250 in all. 
False!  See above.
Crows are omnivores and eat fruits, vegetables and meat.
True-ish?  Crows are omnivores in that they will eat anything under the sun, but their diet consists mostly of invertebrates.  So if by “meat” they mean “animal protein” then yes.
I unfortunately clicked on their "10 Amazing Crows Facts" and, well, it would make this post significantly longer to correct all that’s wrong in there….even non-corvid related information such as calling a time period, the Miocene (a geological epoch), an ancestor of crows…  I have contacted this page in the hopes that they will be willing to make their page more accurate.  It’s clear they love crows, they just need to, um, read a bit more I think.
Moral of the story is please cite facts and information from legitimate sources.

nowyoukno:

Source for more facts follow NowYouKno

This will be the second time I’m correcting a NowYouKno “fact”.  This is not true and the source has a lot of inaccuracies.  I would really like to see NowYouKno getting these “facts” from legitimate sources, not random people on the internet.  Legitimate sources include primary literature, general academic resources, and actual experts in the field. 

Chamberlain documented calls from crows with an often cited study looking at 23 of them.  Crow vocal anatomy makes them capable of many unique sounds and combinations thereof (including human speech mimicry), and I’m sure they are capable of hundreds of unique sounds, but the 250 number seems to be pulled from absolutely nothing.  The best I can tell this “fact” may have spread from the "A Murder of Crows" documentary website on Nature.com (we worked with this film crew, actually, they are not crow experts or biologists, just interested in making a documentary).  Perhaps someone got excited an added a zero?  I don’t know.

Okay, now let’s correct some more incorrect information from the source that NowYouKno used.

They are commonly arboreal, but frequently jet-setters. They are opportunistic feeders, diligent scavengers, and feared succubi.

Arboreal means an animal lives in trees…I’m not sure why this is included?  Perhaps because crows nest in trees?  I have no idea what a “jet-setter” is, so I can’t comment on that.  …feared succubi?  What?

This is hardly a problem for them, as they can live to be nearly 15 years old.

Well, actually they can live longer than that.  Our oldest males were 19 before they disappeared, the oldest documented wild crow was 29, and the oldest documented crow in captivity was 59.

They got their breeding biology correct, hooray!  Crows are cooperative breeders (not “communal breeders”) that mate for life (though infidelity in the mating department is not uncommon).

This column will highlight the history and peculiarities of the Crow and its sister types (Ravens, Corbies, Jackdaws, Rooks, and Magpies to name a few).

This statement is confusing.  Crow is the general term for birds in the genus Corvus, which makes ravens (Corvus corax), jackdaws (Corvus monedula) and rooks (Corvus frugilegus) all different species of crows.  Corbies is not a type of crow, “corbie” is a Scottish word meaning raven, crow, or rook.  Magpies, assuming they mean those from genus PicaCyanopica, Cissa, and Urocissa, are indeed related to crows.

Okay, let’s break down the “facts” at the bottom of the source:

  • Crows are found on every continent except Antarctica.

False!  Crows (Corvus) are not found in South America either (other corvids are).

  • Crows have an exceptional ability to remember and pick a single human face out of a crowd.

True!

  • Crows are far more likely to be found living close to cities and suburbs than out in the country.

False!  Crows live in rural habitats just as easily as they do in suburbs and cities.  Crows live in more dense populations around human habitats, because a smaller territory in a human area can yield more food than a territory of the same size in a rural area.  However, they are only going to be observed more often because there are more humans to observe them.

  • Each generation of crows is capable of building on an earlier generation’s knowledge.

True!  This is what I study.

  • New Caledonian crows are one of only three species, besides human, in the world capable of making tools.

False!  While NC crows are amazing tool users that show cumulative tool evolution in the wild, they are certainly not one of only three non-human species that use tools.  Off the top of my head I can list chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, many species of macaque, capuchin monkeys, bottle-nosed dolphins and other cetaceans, woodpecker finches, sea otters, black cockatoos, and octopi, to name a few!  I’m sure as we continue to observe animals in the wild, more tool users will emerge.

  • Crows live with a mated pair, their kids, and offspring from previous years in an extended family.

True!  This is called cooperative breeding, and is not unique to crows (we are cooperative breeders).

  • Crows have different warning calls – one for cats, and one for hawks, and another for humans – 250 in all. 

False!  See above.

  • Crows are omnivores and eat fruits, vegetables and meat.

True-ish?  Crows are omnivores in that they will eat anything under the sun, but their diet consists mostly of invertebrates.  So if by “meat” they mean “animal protein” then yes.

I unfortunately clicked on their "10 Amazing Crows Facts" and, well, it would make this post significantly longer to correct all that’s wrong in there….even non-corvid related information such as calling a time period, the Miocene (a geological epoch), an ancestor of crows…  I have contacted this page in the hopes that they will be willing to make their page more accurate.  It’s clear they love crows, they just need to, um, read a bit more I think.

Moral of the story is please cite facts and information from legitimate sources.

pencilandsheep asked
This request may sound a little odd. I am writing a novel (for kids) and one character has been turned into a crow who cannot vocalize or fly. What sort of injuries could account for that? Damaged furcula and...?

Not odd at all!  Lots of things can result in the inability to fly, such as extreme fractures to the bones in the wings or something like avian rickets during development (I’ve met a raven who could not fly due to this, but looked outwardly normal).  Birds vocalize using their syrinx (which you can read about here), so damage to that area of the bird’s anatomy would likely make them mute or at least produce strange sounds.  I hope this helps :)

To Know the Crow: Insights and Stories From a Quarter-Century of Crow Study [Video] | All About Birds

Remember the talk that I advertised (and helped field questions for on the livestream) on April 21, 2014? Well the talk is up! And has been…I completely forgot to link it until now. Enjoy!!! Anne and Kevin have been doing this work for a long time and have a lot of information to offer about some of our favorite birds :)

(If you see a pretty, rainbow-colored social network at say, 28:39, that’s some of my research!)

crowtrees:

gonzobuddhist:

corvidblog:

This is an amazing photo.  I love raptors, as a falconer, but here is a goshawk getting a taste of its own medicine perhaps? Must have been one hungry bird to try to take a raven, but then again, accipiters are not known for their sanity ;)
From the Finnish photographer, Arto Juvonen: “It have been a long time before when I have been at a really spontaneous good situation. I was driving towards Loviisa from Porvoo. An escaping flock of Carrion Crows and Jackdaws tell to me, that there was a Goshawk somewhere. Then I noticed a small crop of Crows and Ravens circling behind a hill. I turn back immediately and drove to the hill. I thought that there may be a Crow in claws of A Goshawk, but there was a fighting pair of Raven and juvenile Goshawk
With the naked eye observation I would had said that then Goshawk tried to carry the Raven away. But form the picture we can see, that when the Goshawk gave up and tried to fly away, Raven was hanging on its leg. After about twenty meters of pair-fly, both gone to their own directions..
Is the Goshawk looking slim? Was the caught of Raven a desperate attempt to get food? It is possible, that Female Goshawks can take Ravens, but it is quite rare - at least here in southern Finland, where Crows are much more easy food.“

crowtrees
Perhaps in this photo the Goshawk had tried to start shit, but it’s common for ravens, crows, and quite a few other species of smaller birds to pick on raptors. I’ve even seen pairs of blackbirds and terns ganging up on redtailed hawks out here in prairie county.  Back home in Alaska, where the ravens are big and the eagles are bigger, it’s a common sight to see ravens bullying bald eagles; the size differential is insane, but the ravens are much faster, and much more agile fliers than eagles, which are built for soaring over long distances.  Corvid birds are also incredibly smart. They’ll drive a bigger bird off a kill to scavenge it. I’ve even heard of them killing owls. There was a half dozen noisy crows back behind my house in Iowa a few weeks ago, all jeering at once and then stopping and then all jeering at once again. When I got up to look out the window, this poor redtail was perched on the fence between our lot and the neighbor’s yard, trying to get closer in to the tree branches while circled by these crows.  He took off after a few minutes and they all funneled after him like an evil cloud. 

I see this “poor raptor” argument a lot.  What people forget is that raptors eat crows, ravens, jays, etc.  They aren’t mobbing the raptors for the hell of it or just to ruin the raptor’s day, they do it for self defense.  If there was a hungry tiger, known for a diet that included humans, roaming your neighborhood, you and your neighbors would probably work together to drive it out of your neighborhood (and probably even kill it).  EXACT same idea to mobbing.
Small birds, like red-winged blackbirds and grackles mob larger birds for the same reason too, and often go after crows and ravens.  Crows even mob ravens.  It’s all about trying to get a potential threat to you and your family away.  Can you honestly call that evil?Anyhow, I’ve covered this topic and you can read more here.  Here is some information about tail pulling as well, which is a different behavior.P.S. Before anyone calls me biased, note that I’m a falconer.  I keep and fly raptors.

crowtrees:

gonzobuddhist:

corvidblog:

This is an amazing photo.  I love raptors, as a falconer, but here is a goshawk getting a taste of its own medicine perhaps? Must have been one hungry bird to try to take a raven, but then again, accipiters are not known for their sanity ;)

From the Finnish photographer, Arto Juvonen: “It have been a long time before when I have been at a really spontaneous good situation. I was driving towards Loviisa from Porvoo. An escaping flock of Carrion Crows and Jackdaws tell to me, that there was a Goshawk somewhere. Then I noticed a small crop of Crows and Ravens circling behind a hill. I turn back immediately and drove to the hill. I thought that there may be a Crow in claws of A Goshawk, but there was a fighting pair of Raven and juvenile Goshawk

With the naked eye observation I would had said that then Goshawk tried to carry the Raven away. But form the picture we can see, that when the Goshawk gave up and tried to fly away, Raven was hanging on its leg. After about twenty meters of pair-fly, both gone to their own directions..

Is the Goshawk looking slim? Was the caught of Raven a desperate attempt to get food? It is possible, that Female Goshawks can take Ravens, but it is quite rare - at least here in southern Finland, where Crows are much more easy food.

crowtrees

Perhaps in this photo the Goshawk had tried to start shit, but it’s common for ravens, crows, and quite a few other species of smaller birds to pick on raptors. I’ve even seen pairs of blackbirds and terns ganging up on redtailed hawks out here in prairie county.  Back home in Alaska, where the ravens are big and the eagles are bigger, it’s a common sight to see ravens bullying bald eagles; the size differential is insane, but the ravens are much faster, and much more agile fliers than eagles, which are built for soaring over long distances.  Corvid birds are also incredibly smart. They’ll drive a bigger bird off a kill to scavenge it. I’ve even heard of them killing owls. There was a half dozen noisy crows back behind my house in Iowa a few weeks ago, all jeering at once and then stopping and then all jeering at once again. When I got up to look out the window, this poor redtail was perched on the fence between our lot and the neighbor’s yard, trying to get closer in to the tree branches while circled by these crows.  He took off after a few minutes and they all funneled after him like an evil cloud. 

I see this “poor raptor” argument a lot.  What people forget is that raptors eat crows, ravens, jays, etc.  They aren’t mobbing the raptors for the hell of it or just to ruin the raptor’s day, they do it for self defense.  If there was a hungry tiger, known for a diet that included humans, roaming your neighborhood, you and your neighbors would probably work together to drive it out of your neighborhood (and probably even kill it).  EXACT same idea to mobbing.

Small birds, like red-winged blackbirds and grackles mob larger birds for the same reason too, and often go after crows and ravens.  Crows even mob ravens.  It’s all about trying to get a potential threat to you and your family away.  Can you honestly call that evil?

Anyhow, I’ve covered this topic and you can read more here Here is some information about tail pulling as well, which is a different behavior.

P.S. Before anyone calls me biased, note that I’m a falconer.  I keep and fly raptors.