Crows

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#61
A crow gave me a fright today. Great big "CAW!" right behind me. Reading that I realise it did so deliberately.
 
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#62
Those crows over there. they know what you are thinking and they're laughing at you.

Are Crows Mind Readers ... Or Just Stressed Out?
http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2 ... tml?ref=hp
by Michael Balter on 10 January 2013, 3:25 PM | 0 Comments

Who took my food? A new study supports claims that Western scrub jays can read each others' minds.

Are crows mind readers? Recent studies have suggested that the birds hide food because they think others will steal it -- a complex intuition that has been seen in only a select few creatures. Some critics have suggested that the birds might simply be stressed out, but new research reveals that crows may be gifted after all.

Cracks first began forming in the crow mind-reading hypothesis last year. One member of a research team from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands spent 7 months in bird cognition expert Nicola Clayton's University of Cambridge lab in the United Kingdom studying Western scrub jays, a member of the crow family that is often used for these studies. The Groningen team then developed a computer model in which "virtual jays" cached food under various conditions. In PLOS ONE, they argued that the model showed the jays' might be moving their food—or recaching it—not because they were reading the minds of their competitors, but simply because of the stress of having another bird present (especially a more dominant one) and of losing food to thieves. The result contradicted previous work by Clayton's group suggesting that crows might have a humanlike awareness of other creatures' mental states—a cognitive ability known as theory of mind that has been claimed in dogs, chimps, and even rats.

In the new study, Clayton and her Cambridge graduate student James Thom decided to test the stress hypothesis. First, they replicated earlier work on scrub jays by letting the birds hide peanuts in trays of ground corn cobs—either unobserved or with another bird watching—and later giving them a chance to rebury them. As in previous studies, the jays recached a much higher proportion of the peanuts if another bird could see them: nearly twice as much as in private, the team reports online today in PLOS ONE.



Then came the stress test. First, Thom and Clayton gave the jays trays with the ground cobs but no food to hide in them—a so-called "sham" session. Then, in a second session, they gave the birds new hiding trays and bowls of peanuts to hide. When the jays were done, the experimenters removed the trays and stole all of the peanuts. Finally, after a short break, the researchers gave each bird yet another round of food, a new tray to hide it in, and one of the trays it had seen earlier: either the sham tray or the ransacked "pilfer" tray. The jays had 10 minutes for recaching.

If the Groningen model was correct, Thom and Clayton argue, the stress of discovering that food was missing from the pilfer tray ought to drive jays to cache more peanuts than those presented with the sham tray. In fact, there was no difference, even though corvids have excellent memories for hidden food and remarkable abilities to find it again. The hypothesis that jays have theory of mind remains on the table, Thom says.

Thom and Clayton have "definitely shown that scrub recaching is not as simple as the [Groningen] model presents it," says Elske van der Vaart, lead author of the Groningen team's earlier report, who is now at the University of Amsterdam. But she argues that there is still room for doubt about what the results mean. For example, the sham condition—in which the jays had no food to cache—could have stressed the birds as much as the stolen peanuts in the pilfer condition did.

Amanda Seed, an animal cognition researcher at the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom, says the Groningen model's failure to predict the birds' caching behavior in the new experiments could "bring the model down like a pack of cards." But researchers still have to rule out other possible explanations, she says. For example, the birds given pilfered tray may have noticed the missing peanuts too late to affect their overall caching rate, or they may have spent much of their time looking for the missing nuts instead of hiding the new ones. The Cambridge and Groningen groups are planning more work with both real and "virtual" birds to see what is really going on. "I applaud them for rising to the challenge," Seed says.
 
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#63
Crows understand water displacement at the level of a small child: Show causal understanding of a 5- to 7-year-old child
Date:
March 26, 2014

Crows understand water displacement at the level of a small child.
Credit: Sarah Jelbert; CC-BY

New Caledonian crows may understand how to displace water to receive a reward, with the causal understanding level of a 5-7 year-old child, according to results published March 26, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Sarah Jelbert from University of Auckland and colleagues.

Understanding causal relationships between actions is a key feature of human cognition. However, the extent to which non-human animals are capable of understanding causal relationships is not well understood.

Scientists used the Aesop's fable riddle -- in which subjects drop stones into water to raise the water level and obtain an out-of reach-reward -- to assess New Caledonian crows' causal understanding of water displacement. These crows are known for their intelligence and innovation, as they are the only non-primate species able to make tools, such as prodding sticks and hooks. Six wild crows were tested after a brief training period for six experiments, during which the authors noted rapid learning (although not all the crows completed every experiment). The authors note that these tasks did not test insightful problem solving, but were directed at the birds' understanding of volume displacement.

Crows completed 4 of 6 water displacement tasks, including preferentially dropping stones into a water-filled tube instead of a sand-filled tube, dropping sinking objects rather than floating objects, using solid objects rather than hollow objects, and dropping objects into a tube with a high water level rather than a low one. However, they failed two more challenging tasks, one that required understanding of the width of the tube, and one that required understanding of counterintuitive cues for a U-shaped displacement task. According to the authors, results indicate crows may possess a sophisticated -- but incomplete -- understanding of the causal properties of volume displacement, rivalling that of 5-7 year old children.

Sarah Jelbert added, "These results are striking as they highlight both the strengths and limits of the crows' understanding. In particular, the crows all failed a task which violated normal causal rules, but they could pass the other tasks, which suggests they were using some level of causal understanding when they were successful.
"
Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by PLOS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
Sarah A. Jelbert, Alex H. Taylor, Lucy G. Cheke, Nicola S. Clayton, Russell D. Gray. Using the Aesop's Fable Paradigm to Investigate Causal Understanding of Water Displacement by New Caledonian Crows. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (3): e92895 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092895

Cite This Page:

MLA APA Chicago
PLOS. "Crows understand water displacement at the level of a small child: Show causal understanding of a 5- to 7-year-old child." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2014.

<www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140326182039.htm>.
 

rynner2

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#65
ramonmercado said:
Crows understand water displacement at the level of a small child: Show causal understanding of a 5- to 7-year-old child
Date:
March 26, 2014

Crows understand water displacement at the level of a small child.
Credit: Sarah Jelbert; CC-BY

New Caledonian crows may understand how to displace water to receive a reward, with the causal understanding level of a 5-7 year-old child, according to results published March 26, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Sarah Jelbert from University of Auckland and colleagues.
This is hardly new! In 2010 I posted this in Bird Brains:
Our bird brain is nothing to crow about
Wild Notebook
Simon Barnes

In one of Aesop’s fables, a thirsty crow is unable to reach the water in a jug. He tries to push the jug over, but fails. So he drops stones into the jug until the water level rises high enough for him to take his drink. Thus we are shown that thoughtfulness is superior to brute strength. It is not, then, a story about crows. It is a story about humans. You wouldn’t get a real crow behaving like that, now would you?

So I went to Madingley in Cambridgeshire to meet a lot of crows and a professor. The professor danced as she walked and wore heels like pencils. The crows were still more unexpected. Float a mealworm on the water — the crows in question are mad for them — but make sure the container is too deep for the worm to be beaked and gobbled. Guess what the crows do.

etc...

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 461#950461
 

rynner2

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#66
Coincidentally, I've just found another old story presented as news (not about crows though).
Old story from February 2012:
Zebra stripes evolved to keep biting flies at bay
By Victoria Gill, Science reporter, BBC Nature

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 84#1186084
New story, today's Telegraph:
Stripes could protect us from biting flies, scientists claim as they explain zebra markings
Biologists believe they have unravelled the evolutionary mystery of how the zebra got its stripes claiming the markings protect them from biting flies

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildli ... kings.html
I blame over-population! There are too many people, doing too many things, so that nobody can keep track of everything any more!
 

Spudrick68

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#67
I was at my mums over Sunday and Monday. She lives in sheltered accommodation in a quiet area. There are gardens overlooking her living room. On the Sunday I saw a crow attacking another crow. It had it on its back and appeared to be repeatedly stabbing it with its beak. Another crow was dive bombing it and a third was tugging at a wing whether to hurt it or drag it away from damage I do not know). Two magpies were also in the vicinity but not doing anything.

A while after it had happened the attacked bird was on its back, not moving and I assumed that it was dead. I found it sad but went to see if it was dead or suffering when all the other birds had gone. It was intact but feather ripped out from its underside so that pink flesh was showing. Amazingly it was breathing very hard. I thought that I would keep an eye on the situation, but a couple of hours later it was gone.

I do not know whether it had recovered sufficiently to move on or not, but i did not want to see a creature suffer a prolonged death. I still don't know what became of it.
 

uair01

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#68
We have a small crow family living on our back lawn. Before 9-6-2016 their only young had tumbled from the nest and just hung around, flightless. Fortunately the local cats ignored it. Then on 9-6-2016 it started trying out its wings. It could fly clumsily, just a few meters.

crow flying exercises 09-06-2016.jpg

On 11-06-2016 it was still being fed by its parents. It still tries that even now on 21-07-2016.

crow feeding 11-06-2016.jpg

Then on 26-06-2016 it could already fly nicely.

crow flying 26-06-2016.jpg
 

rynner2

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#69
I looked at this thread, expecting it to include a crow story I noticed (but didn't read) in the media this morning. But it's not here! Can't remember where I saw it, which makes it hard to search for.

But I gathered it was about a fledgling which fell out of a nest and was rescued by a girl. But then it didn't want to leave, and although fully grown now it still lives with the young woman!
 

JamesWhitehead

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#72
I don't much think of crows but last week I did witness a violent confrontation. It had attracted a number of human spectators.

The cause of the dispute? Probably the remains of some Fried Chicken, as they were in the vicinity of a KFC outlet.

Ain't Nature wonderful! I have witnessed woodlice fighting each other to devour the corpses of poisoned slugs but I didn't hang around to see the result of this cockfight. :oops:
 

uair01

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#73
This morning a crow seemed to chase a stork who was carrying some nesting material in its beak. Strange sight. You would think that the stork can ignore the crow but it seemed to be fleeing.
And I saw two crows (I don't think they're birds of prey, I'm a bit unsure about the silhouette) spiraling high in the sky for a long time. Could that be some mating behavior?
I was lucky to get my camera in time.

crow-stork.jpg flight.jpg
 

Naughty_Felid

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#74
Interesting article on Corvids and shiny things.

https://corvidresearch.blog/2015/12/04/crow-curiosities-do-crows-collect-shiny-objects/

The notion that corvids, especially magpies, have a special affinity for shiny object has been around for more than a century. In fact to refer to someone as a magpie is to describe them as someone who ‘compulsively collects or hoards small objects’. This idea is so old hat that it can feel a bit frivolous to even wonder if it’s true. The trouble with this bit of corvid whimsy, however, is that when we do investigate it, and scientists have, we find there’s no empirical evidence to support it...
 

JamesWhitehead

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#75
Magpies used to be the dominant corvids in this area - it is urban but just a few hundred yards from a park. Recently, crows appear to have moved in. I wonder if this is just a local thing. :dunno:
 

Ermintruder

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#76
Yesterday I was trained by a crow.

In Edinburgh, parked near Fettes College.

I was in a car, windows & doors closed, eating an overpriced sandwich from Waitrose Comelybank, when something inescapably caught my side-view.

It was doing a sideways-on rocking/stabbing movement, and the instant I started watching, it stopped and walked towards me in the car. It stared up at me, looking deliberately over each of my shoulders, moving its head in a playacting I-know-you-are-eating way.
  • It could not see the sandwich (was below the windowline), though it could still see me eating
  • It acted entirely as if the car wasn't there- I can't emphasise this point strongly enough. As if it could see through the car like the branches of a tree.
I decided to ignore it, whereupon it moved further out (so as to make me see it again, easily) and restarted the rocking / stabbing / look-at-me movements. Side-on, maximum size, legs stretched.

So I turned again to look at it, realising that I must be one of many car-sandwich-eaters that this particular crow had trained.

This bird simply oozed confident charisma. It was massive. And learning all the time.

So I had to reward it with the last piece of bread from my sandwich (tossed-out from my window).

This trick might be a key source of food for it. Waitrose is only a few hundred yards away, so car-dwelling lunch-louts may be a common sight...for crows.

When it flew up onto the railings (assessing me as trained and finished) it grasped two adjacent rods, and stood on top of them like massive stilts. Rocking side-to-side, with total control. It behaved as if it were the cleverest bird in Edinburgh- and perhaps that is literally true.

I will of course go back and see if it tries to train me again.
 
Last edited:

Mythopoeika

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#77
Yesterday I was trained by a crow.

In Edinburgh, parked near Fettes College.

I was in a car, windows & doors closed, eating an overpriced sandwich from Waitrose Comelybank, when something inescapably caught my side-view.

It was doing a sideways-on rocking/stabbing movement, and the instant I started watching, it stopped and walked towards me in the car. It stared up at me, looking deliberately over each of my shoulders, moving its head in a playacting I-know-you-are-eating way.
  • It could not see the sandwich (was below the windowline), though it could still see me eating
  • It acted entirely as if the car wasn't there- I can't emphasise this point strongly enough. As if it could see through the car like the branches of a tree.
I decided to ignore it, whereupon it moved further out (so as to make me see it again, easily) and restarted the rocking / stabbing / look-at-me movements. Side-on, maximum size, legs stretched.

So I turned again to look at it, realising that I must be one of many car-sandwich-eaters that this particular crow had trained.

This bird simply oozed confident charisma. It was massive. And learning all the time.

So I had to reward it with the last piece of bread from my sandwich (tossed-out from my window).

This trick might be a key source of food for it. Waitrose is only a few hundred yards away, so car-dwelling lunch-louts may be a common sight...for crows.

When it flew up onto the railings (assessing me as trained and finished) it grasped two adjacent rods, and stood on top of them like massive stilts. Rocking side-to-side, with total control. It behaved as if it were the cleverest bird in Edinburgh- and perhaps that is literally true.

I will of course go back and see if it tries to train me again.
Please take a photo!
 

pandacracker

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#81
One day, when I was teaching English in Japan, I was having a one-on-one lesson with a regular female student in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

The classroom windows looked over a narrow balcony, just wide enough to fit the external air conditioner apparatus and with plenty of perches for birds. We were doing some basic "listen-and-repeat" stuff when a crow came and perched by the window and looked in.

The student and I noticed our observer and continued with the lesson. Then the beast started to make the most unusual sound. it's difficult to put in writing but it was soft, sing song and regular...

uu uuuu uu

uu uuuu uu

The student and I were dumbfounded :wide: It seemed to be mimicking the rhythms and sounds we were making.

It only did it for, maybe, less than a minute then flew off. I used that room many times after but, unfortunately, the beast never came back for another lesson.
 

LordRsmacker

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#82
And I saw two crows (I don't think they're birds of prey, I'm a bit unsure about the silhouette) spiraling high in the sky for a long time. Could that be some mating behavior?
I was lucky to get my camera in time.

View attachment 9127
Buzzards. Soaring around looking for carrion. The crows would mob them when they got within range too.
 

uair01

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#83
Buzzards. Soaring around looking for carrion. The crows would mob them when they got within range too.
Are you sure? I checked the outlines of the birds and they look similar. I've been fooled by crows looking like birds of prey many times. Still, you might be right. We have buzzards in the city park.
 

brownmane

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#87
Are you sure? I checked the outlines of the birds and they look similar. I've been fooled by crows looking like birds of prey many times. Still, you might be right. We have buzzards in the city park.
The wing outline looks like turkey vultures. Not sure if you have them in your area, but the wings are definitely buzzard of some type. The pic of the pair in flight is also turkey vulture flight pattern.
Turkey vultures are back for the spring here, since about March:)
 

Bad Bungle

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#89
At my former home, a wooden panel fence separated my garden from a neighbour who lived in a bungalow with four cats. At five o'clock each day she'd throw the left-over contents of the cat bowls into the grass and fill them afresh. A young crow sat on a bush in her garden and would come down to eat the old cat food. I knew nothing about this routine until the neighbour went on holiday for a fortnight and my Mum took over cat duty.
On Day nine I was having a conversation with Mum in our kitchen and we lost track of time - at ten past five there was a tap from the porch but nobody there when I went to look. A few minutes later there was another series of taps and I went through the porch to stand outside. I spotted the crow in the act of picking small stones out of the gutter and dropping them on the glass porch roof. As soon as it saw me it flew over the fence to sit on the bush and await to be fed.
Such a tiny brain but the crow had registered a new Feeder and had followed my Mum back to her house. It also knew how to gauge time and how to attract our attention when the food wasn't there at five o'clock. Marvellous and a little scary.
 

Mythopoeika

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#90
At my former home, a wooden panel fence separated my garden from a neighbour who lived in a bungalow with four cats. At five o'clock each day she'd throw the left-over contents of the cat bowls into the grass and fill them afresh. A young crow sat on a bush in her garden and would come down to eat the old cat food. I knew nothing about this routine until the neighbour went on holiday for a fortnight and my Mum took over cat duty.
On Day nine I was having a conversation with Mum in our kitchen and we lost track of time - at ten past five there was a tap from the porch but nobody there when I went to look. A few minutes later there was another series of taps and I went through the porch to stand outside. I spotted the crow in the act of picking small stones out of the gutter and dropping them on the glass porch roof. As soon as it saw me it flew over the fence to sit on the bush and await to be fed.
Such a tiny brain but the crow had registered a new Feeder and had followed my Mum back to her house. It also knew how to gauge time and how to attract our attention when the food wasn't there at five o'clock. Marvellous and a little scary.
Yesterday, I visited an office in the building where I work (to see the 2 guys who run an aqualung rebreather company). While we were talking, a big crow landed on the window sill outside and seemed about to come in through the open window (but he didn't). The guys told me that the crow had done the same the other day, but it got into the office. One of the guys had said 'Uh-oh, what's the betting that it'll walk through the open window' - and tada - it did! So they had to catch it in a box and take it outside.
 
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