Crows are known for their remarkable intelligence, including using tools, recognizing human faces, and solving complex puzzles.
Q: What is the scientific name for crows?
A: The scientific name for crows is Corvus. They belong to the family Corvidae and are medium to large-sized birds.
Q: How many species of crows are there?
A: There are around 45 recognized species of crows, with the most common species being the American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) and the carrion crow (Corvus corone).
Q: What is the average lifespan of a crow?
A: Crows typically have a lifespan of 7-8 years in the wild, but they can live up to 20 years or more in captivity.
Q: What do crows eat?
A: Crows are omnivorous and have a diverse diet consisting of insects, fruits, seeds, nuts, small animals, eggs, and carrion. They are also known to scavenge from human waste and leftovers.
Q: Are crows intelligent?
A: Crows are considered to be among the most intelligent birds. They have demonstrated problem-solving abilities, use of tools, and can remember human faces. Their complex social structures and communication skills further showcase their intelligence.
Researchers have observed crows pulling the tails of other animals to steal their food, demonstrating their understanding of the other animal’s mental state and forward planning. A study by the University of Washington found that some crows steal food from their neighbors, with certain individuals doing so about 65% of the time. Interestingly, crows were passive when stealing from relatives and aggressive towards non-relatives, suggesting they can recognize kin and engage in complex social behavior patterns.
Q: Do crows mate for life?
A: Crows tend to form long-lasting, monogamous relationships with their partners, often staying together for several years or even their entire lives.
Q: Can crows talk or mimic sounds?
A: Crows, like other corvids such as ravens and magpies, have the ability to mimic sounds, including human speech. They do this to communicate, deceive, or entertain themselves.
Q: What is a group of crows called?
A: A group of crows is called a “murder.” The term “murder” in reference to a group of crows can be traced back to the 15th century. It appears in a book called “The Book of Saint Albans” or “The Boke of Seynt Albans,” which was a compilation of information on hawking, hunting, and heraldry.
While a group of crows is called a “murder,” other corvid species also have interesting collective nouns. A group of ravens is called an “unkindness” or a “conspiracy,” while a group of magpies is referred to as a “tiding” or a “charm.”
Q: Do crows like shiny objects?
A: While there is a popular belief that corvids, such as magpies, are attracted to shiny objects, scientific studies have found no empirical evidence to support this notion. Anecdotes of crows stealing shiny objects may be influenced by confirmation bias or the actions of curious juvenile birds. In one notable incident, a crow named Canuck in Vancouver, British Columbia, stole a knife from a crime scene, showcasing their intelligence and ability to recognize individual human faces.
Q: Do crows attack people?
A: They can! During the spring and early summer, Vancouver experiences what locals call “crow attack season.” This is when crows become highly protective of their nests and may swoop down and attack people who venture too close. In response, the city of Vancouver created an online interactive map called CrowTrax, where residents could report crow attacks and view areas with high crow activity. The map helps raise awareness and allows people to take precautions during nesting season.
In many cultures, crows have been associated with death and misfortune due to their black color and their habit of feeding on carrion. In Greek mythology, the crow was a symbol of Apollo, the god of prophecy, and was believed to be an omen of death and war.
In Norse mythology, the god Odin had two crows named Huginn (Thought) and Muninn (Memory) that would fly around the world to gather information and report back to him. This story highlights the intelligence of crows and their close association with wisdom.
Crows have appeared in various literary works as symbols of death or omens of misfortune. In Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem “The Raven,” the raven (a close relative of the crow) symbolizes death and despair.
In some Native American cultures, crows are considered to be tricksters, similar to the coyote. They are often featured in stories as cunning and resourceful characters who can outsmart larger or more powerful animals.
Crows are also associated with the Celtic goddess Morrigan, who is known as a goddess of war, fate, and death. In Irish mythology, she would often appear as a crow or be accompanied by a group of crows.
In Hinduism, crows are thought to represent ancestors and are given food offerings during a ritual called “Shraddha.” This tradition is based on the belief that the souls of the deceased may temporarily visit the world in the form of crows.
In Japanese folklore, the crow is known as “Yatagarasu,” a divine messenger and symbol of guidance. According to legend, Yatagarasu led the mythical first Emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu, to his destination, helping to establish the imperial dynasty.
Contrary to their association with death and misfortune, in some cultures, crows are considered good omens. For example, in ancient China, a three-legged crow called “Sanzuwu” was a symbol of the sun and was believed to bring good fortune.
In 2013, a rare white crow was spotted in the Serbian village of Zabrezje. The unusual bird was believed to be a partially albino crow, with white feathers and red eyes. Locals were fascinated by the unique appearance of the crow and considered it a good omen. The story of the white crow attracted media attention and once again demonstrated the captivating nature of crows and their ability to intrigue people.
Crow vending machine: In 2009, a TED Talk by Joshua Klein showcased an experiment where he designed a vending machine for crows. The crows would deposit coins they found into the machine in exchange for food. This highlighted their problem-solving abilities and adaptability.
Crows as trash collectors: In 2018, a French theme park called Puy du Fou trained six crows to pick up litter and dispose of it in specially designed containers. The crows were rewarded with food for their efforts, showcasing their intelligence and ability to be trained.
Crows and traffic: In urban areas, crows have been observed using traffic to their advantage. They have been seen dropping nuts onto busy streets, waiting for cars to run over them and crack the shells, and then swooping down to eat the contents when it’s safe.
The New Caledonian crow and tool use: Researchers have extensively studied the New Caledonian crow due to its advanced tool-making and problem-solving abilities. One famous example is “Betty,” a crow that bent a straight piece of wire into a hook to retrieve food from a tube, demonstrating impressive cognitive skills.
Crows and facial recognition: In a 2009 study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge, it was discovered that crows can recognize human faces and hold grudges against those who have threatened or harmed them. The crows would scold and harass known “dangerous” humans, illustrating their impressive memory and ability to communicate.
Skiing crows: In 2012, a video went viral showing a crow seemingly “skiing” down a roof using a small disc-like object. While it is unclear whether the crow was playing or engaging in this behavior for another reason, the footage captivated people and demonstrated the crow’s agility and playfulness.
Crow funeral rituals: In recent years, researchers have discovered that crows may engage in “funeral” rituals for their deceased companions. The birds gather around the deceased, making loud calls and displaying specific behaviors. This has led to further investigations into the complexity of crow social structures and their understanding of death.
Collaborative problem-solving: A 2015 study published in the journal Current Biology revealed that pairs of crows could work together to solve complex problems that they could not solve individually. This suggested a high level of cooperation and communication skills among crows.
Canuck the Crow: Canuck the Crow gained notoriety in Vancouver, Canada, for his bold and mischievous behavior. In 2016, Canuck made headlines when he stole a knife from an active crime scene, forcing police officers to chase him down to recover the evidence. The crow eventually dropped the knife, but the incident brought attention to the clever and daring nature of crows. Canuck has become a local celebrity, known for his interactions with humans and his recognizable orange leg band. He even has his own Facebook page, where fans can follow his antics.
Crow stealing a train station card in Japan: In 2017, a crow in Japan made news when it stole a passenger’s train station card (Suica card) at the Kinshicho Station in Tokyo. A video of the incident shows the crow snatching the card from the ticket machine and then flying away, with the owner attempting to retrieve it. This event is another example of the intelligence and opportunistic behavior of crows, demonstrating their adaptability to urban environments and their ability to identify valuable items.
Crows and windshield wipers in Japan: In 2014, residents of Sapporo, Japan, reported that crows were pulling off windshield wipers from parked cars. The crows were using the rubber from the wipers to line their nests, demonstrating their resourcefulness and ability to adapt to urban environments. This unusual behavior caused inconvenience for car owners but also illustrated the intelligence of crows in finding new materials for nest-building.
Crow stealing a credit card in Sweden: In 2017, a crow in Sweden was caught on camera stealing a credit card from a woman’s purse as she was shopping at a local market. The crow quickly flew away with the card, forcing the woman to chase after it. The bird eventually dropped the card, and it was retrieved by the owner. This event highlights the opportunistic nature of crows and their ability to recognize valuable items.