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7 Things about Crows that May Surprise You

7 Things about Crows that May Surprise You

While crows certainly seem to have a bit of a cult following in the birding community, many people do not immediately think of them when naming their favorite birds. In fact, they can sometimes be a bit obnoxious and scare away smaller song birds from your feeders. 

However, there are lots of interesting things to know about crows. Here are seven things about these birds that may surprise you, causing you to maybe rethink your appreciation of crows. 

1 - Crows are Quite Creative at Finding Food

Most birds tend to be rather creative when it comes to finding food sources; however, crows take this to a whole new extreme. For example, the American crow often expands its diet to include fish. It has even been seen using food like breadcrumbs to lure fish closer to the surface, allowing them to be captured. This is truly an impressive show of intelligence and innovation. 

2 - Crows Can match Wits with Your 7-Year-Old

Many people already know that crows are intelligent; however, did you know they can solve logical puzzles at the level of a second grader? Crows have been used in a variety of research studies over time to better assess their intelligence. They have been able to solve things like eight-step puzzles and a water displacement puzzle that are often used to test development of people aged five to seven. 

3 - One Species of Crow Has been Seen Making Tools

While many species of crow use tools they find in nature, a particular species of crow – the New Caledonian crow – has been observed having a behavior typically only associated with primates. These crows have been observed making their own tools from sticks. This involves trimming them to be a certain shape, allowing them to pull insects from crevices. This behavior has also been replicated in a lab setting with crows using pliable material to create hooked-shape tools.

4 - Crows Sometimes Hold “Funerals”

Crows have highly developed family structures. In fact, these social birds have been seen with older siblings helping defend nests of their parents and bringing food to new babies. However, the social nature of crows can be further seen in the reality that they sometimes appear to have funerals. When a crow dies, often up to a hundred other crows show up to the location. While the reason behind this practice is not known, it is thought the goal is to learn more about potential threats. 

5 - Crows in Japan Have Learned to Read Traffic Lights

Another interesting tale of crow intelligence comes from Japan where carrion crows have found a noteworthy way of cracking the tough shells for the walnuts that they love to eat. They will fly into the street, leaving the walnut behind. Once it has been run over by a car, they will return for their snack. However, observers note that the crows have seemingly learned what the traffic lights mean, enabling them to drop and retrieve the walnuts without risk. 

6 - Farmers Tried Scarecrows and Other Ways to Keep Them Away

With crows being notorious crop thieves, they are understandable the bane of many a farmer. Almost everyone is familiar with the use of scarecrows to try to frighten the creatures away. However, in the 1930s, Oklahoma farmers attempted to make crows a popular dinner item to cut down their population. The governor of the state even created the Statehouse Crow Meat Lover’s Association. However, the trend never really caught on. 

7 - Crows Hold Grudges

Some interesting research into crows found that they are able to recognize different human faces. Not only that, but they can also hold a grudge if they are treated poorly. A study from the University of Washington utilized two masks – a caveman mask and a Dick Cheney mask at several different research sites. The caveman mask was worn when crows were trapped and tagged, and the Cheney mask served as the control. Even five years after the experiment, the anyone wearing the caveman mask was met was warning caws and dive bombs from crows while others were left alone. 

Final Thoughts

If you enjoyed learning these surprising facts about crows, you’ll love learning more about birds. Birdertown is your source for birding information as well as all the supplies you could ever need to attract birds to your yard. 

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