Making Friends with Corvids

Crows and ravens are the smartest non-parrot birds around. Studies have shown that they recognize people by face, they know where the food is, and they know who helps them to get to it. They use tools. They protect their own.

For my outside birds, the best trait of crows is that they chase away other winged predators. I have had small hawks come to my yard to try to get at the “bird buffet” behind the wire. These predators are not picky, they will grab a bird through the wire and eat whatever they can pull out. It’s not pretty.

visiting-coopers-hawk

The cage was empty when this hawk visited

Not very long ago, I had Maynard outside on his cage, a favorite pastime of his these days. In fact, he screams if I go out without him. I was working on a cage for my doves, cutting off the old wire so the new wire can be bent around it. I had a pretty impressive set of wire clippers in my hand.

hawk-at-buffet

Nice buffet you have here.

My outside flock began to send up cries and Maynard was bent over so one eye could look straight up. I turned to find out what the problem was. A beautiful Cooper’s hawk flew into my yard, inches from Maynard, then kept going over the aviaries and into the neighbor’s yard. Maynard did not object to going inside that day.

I watched the hawk in a pine tree next door, soon joined by a second hawk. All at once, a flock of crows flew in and set up a loud cry. More and more crows came in, flew around the pine tree, and when the hawks finally gave up and left, the mob followed.

hawks-in-park-cropped

A pair of Coopers Hawks that live in the park near me.

I quickly deduced that if I could keep the crows around my yard, I would have less of an issue with hawks. So I looked to see what I needed to do. Apparently, I am not the first one to have this idea. https://owlcation.com/stem/How-to-Make-Friends-with-Crows

First, crows will love you forever if you feed them. Get rid of the fear that this will make them dependent on you. Crows are scavengers, they know how to find more food if one supply runs out. Also, check your yard for things that crows might be scared of. Wind chimes, shiny things, scarecrows, anything that reflects light, makes noise, or looks like a scary human.

021217-crow-in-flight

Put out fresh water. I have a bird bath in my backyard that I inherited from a friend who was moving out of state. She said the crows wouldn’t leave it alone. I haven’t found that to be the case, but still, I hope they will come in soon.

And give them space when they do show up. They are wild and while they might take advantage of a handout, they don’t want to be your shoulder bird. Not unless they were raised that way. Respect the crow and they will be happy around you.

021217-crow-vs-raven

Back to food, crows are so not picky. Fruit. Bread. Unsalted peanuts. Fast food still in the wrappers. Yesterday I saw a crow fighting with a bag of potato chips. The bag was nearly empty and the wind continued to grab it away from the bird. As I walked up, the bird retreated, but I shook out the crumbs, opened the bag flat, and walked away. I planned to dispose of the bag on my next lap around the park.

021217-hawk-and-crow

I looked back to see the crow happily scarfing the crumbs. And when I returned, I saw that the bag was no longer in sight. Well, it did have a shiny liner.

I don’t know how much it helps my cause, but I always say, “Hi, crow!” when I see them. I hope they can identify the sound with my face. Maybe it helps calm them when they know it’s just me walking the dog. Here’s more information on making friends with crows. http://coyot.es/thecorvidblog/2015/08/02/making-friends-with-crows/

021217-mobbed

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.

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