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Thu Oct 1, 2015, 11:13 AM

Crows May Learn Lessons From Death

In recent years, a peculiar sort of public performance has taken place periodically on the sidewalks of Seattle.

It begins with a woman named Kaeli N. Swift sprinkling peanuts and cheese puffs on the ground. Crows swoop in to feed on the snacks. While Ms. Swift observes the birds from a distance, notebook in hand, another person walks up to the birds, wearing a latex mask and a sign that reads “UW CROW STUDY.” In the accomplice’s hands is a taxidermied crow, presented like a tray of hors d’oeuvres.

This performance is not surreal street theater, but an experiment designed to explore a deep biological question: What do crows understand about death?

Ms. Swift has been running this experiment as part of her doctoral research at the University of Washington, under the guidance of John M. Marzluff, a biologist. Dr. Marzluff and other experts on crow behavior have long been intrigued by the way the birds seem to congregate noisily around dead comrades. Dr. Marzluff has witnessed these gatherings many times himself, and has heard similar stories from other people.

“Whenever I give a talk about crows, there’s always someone who says, ‘Well, what about this?’ ” he said.


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Reply Crows May Learn Lessons From Death (Original post)
n2doc Oct 2015 OP
Judi Lynn Oct 2015 #1
BlueJazz Oct 2015 #2

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 06:56 PM

1. What's the point in depressing the crows by hammering them with the images of their own deaths?

Maybe some photos of crows with their heads ripped off, or run over by cars, etc. will help do it up right.

There are so many other things people can do beyond trying to terrify birds. We just maintain bird feeders in our yard.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 09:44 PM

2. I feed a group (murder) of crows every other day in my back yard. What puzzles me is>


Some days the whole murder will eat the stuff I put out, at one time. Other days they sit up in the trees and "take turns". One or two will fly down, grab food and return to the trees then one or two will take their place. Fascinating to watch.

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