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Kevin Crows [CRACKED]

What do these "grown-up kids" do at their parents' nests? They make sure that their mother has plenty of food when she's warming the eggs that will hatch their new siblings. Later, the older birds ensure that the baby crows have plenty to eat, too.

kevin crows

New Caledonian crows make tools out of the twigs and the long, prickly edges of the leaves of the tropical pandanus tree, says New Zealander Gavin Hunt. He studies these crows, which live on islands between Australia and Fiji.

One crow's tools are very much like another's. That's why Hunt believes young crows learn toolmaking techniques from other crows. He theorizes that the birds must communicate among themselves to share tool design information.

"We [usually] only see this level of tool skill in humans," says Hunt. "New Caledonian crows teach us that in many ways other animals are not so different from us, and we should respect them for their differences and similarities."

Nicholas S. Thompson, psychology professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., has studied crow communication for nearly 40 years. He has written that each crow's caws identify that individual bird. That allows other crows to keep track of how many crows are nearby - and which crows they are.

In his book, "Listen to the Crows," Laurence Pringle explains how crows identify themselves. They can make long or short sounds, a certain number of sounds at one time, and pause in between sounds. "The pattern [of caws] is like a name, but a crow doesn't have to keep the same 'name' forever," he writes. "Or maybe they each have a few favorite patterns and switch when crows of similar patterns are nearby."

Crows do more than just caw, though. Dr. Thompson writes about their "incredibly complex vocalizations, ranging from yips and coos to growls, rattles, and sniggers." Some of these sounds appear not to be reactions to immediate events. He theorizes that crows may "talk" about things that happened in other locations or at other times.

Today it is generally illegal to possess wild animals, including crows. But in the past, people enjoyed adopting wild crows and trying to teach them to talk. Whitney Dough's pet crow, Andy, could say many different words and phrases, including "hello," "hands up," "I won," and "hot dog."

In my front yard, the hummingbirds are very businesslike. They zip from flower to flower, sipping nectar before they zoom away. The crows who visit my garden, though, seem to spend more time just having fun.

In the spring I'll often spot crows speeding toward a particular branch of an evergreen tree - a branch that sticks out like a student raising his hand. The visiting crow lands heavily on the branch, which bounces wildly up and down beneath the weight of the bird. Once the swinging stops, the crow flaps away only to rocket in again for another landing. 041b061a72


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