I’m one of those people who loves crows, ravens and other members of the Corvidae family. I know many folks find them creepy and rather gross because they are scavengers, and it is a little unnerving having them fix you with their beady stare, head slightly cocked, as if sizing you up for their next lunch.
But, as this delightful video shows, they’re bright, funny and perfectly capable of cooking up their own entertainment in a moment of boredom.
He even figures out when he tries to go down the other side that the ridge is in his way and switches back to his original ski run. Scientists studying crows and ravens are “discovering” what observers of the birds could have told them all along: these birds are bright and they can think and reason – or plot, depending on your point of view. They know how to drop pebbles into a bottle of water to bring the water level up high enough they can get a drink and they can fashion a branch into a tool to root out grubs among other things.
At the West Entrance to Yellowstone Park, I watched from the station one day as two ravens landed in the middle of the snowmobile trail with their prize, a cheese sandwich in a plastic bag. The’d probably swiped it from the saddlebags on a snowmobile – they’ve become quite adept at that feat, too. This was one of those bags from pre-Zip-Lok days, which had a flap you folded over the sandwich, then a second flap you pulled down over the top. The ravens obviously knew what they were dealing with, it was just a matter of their trying to figure out where the flap was and which way to pull to get it out. One raven would hold down the bag while the other would peck and pull at the other end. Working together, it took them about 10 minutes to figure out the right combination and free the sandwich. Then, of course, the fight began to see who got the reward.
Last summer, right after a rainstorm, I passed a field where a large puddle of water had gathered in a low spot. It was full of a dozen or so crows. I wondered what they were after, but as I watched it was apparent they were simply playing in the water. Several were sloshing back and forth, splashing water all over, and I could almost hear my mother yelling at me “get out of the puddle, look what you’re doing to your shoes.” One crow was body surfing. He’d start at one end of the puddle and hop as fast as he could, then throw his wings out and flop into the water, pushing himself as far as he could go. Then he’d bob up, turn around and go back the other way. I stopped to watch, and like a bunch of little kids caught doing something they shouldn’t, the crows all immediately stopped what they were doing and stared at me.
Has anyone else had any interesting experiences with crows, ravens or any other birds that they’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them.