Gifts From Crows

Four years ago in Seattle, eight year old Gabi Mann consistently fed and interacted with the crows in her backyard. She formed such a tight bond that she could recognize individual crows by sight and gave them names. The crows rewarded her by bringing gifts.

Many animals give gifts to members of their own species but crows and other corvids are the only ones known to give gifts to humans. As John Marzluff explains in the video, crows will do this for people who feed them a lot and pay attention to them, or even rescue them.

When I read about this several years ago in Marzluff’s book Gifts of the Crow, I briefly thought about trying to make friends with crows but decided it would be a difficult relationship. If your friendship with crows is based on food they remember your generosity and bring their friends. Lots of friends. They can be quite demanding and don’t understand if you stop. Not everyone appreciates this.

Gabi’s story made international news in February 2015 but we don’t hear about it anymore. Six months after this video was filmed two of Gabi’s neighbors sued, demanding $200,000 and a court order prohibiting the Mann family from putting out more than a 1/4 pound of bird food. It took a year to settle the lawsuit; the details were not made public.

Crows remember the faces of those who are mean to them and those who are especially kind. I’m sure that a few special crows remember Gabi.

(video from BBC on YouTube)

15 thoughts on “Gifts From Crows

  1. I had a crow as a kid that stayed around until fall when a group of crows came over and lured him away.It was a great experience that made me love birds through out my years. I especially like to follow Canuck and I on Facebook. He is the Ambassador of Vancouver, beating out various celebrities for the position. His antics are endearing and his mate and a young crow have also bonded to Canuck’s human. I would urge all to follow Canuck’s antics on his facebook page Canuck and I to get a glimce of a crow’s life and behaviors.

  2. Crows certainly are amazing. Every day they fly over my house around 4 pm on their way to their roosting spot. It’s like clockwork.
    Yesterday at 4:20 pm in Swissvale I heard such a racket that I ran out out of house on to my front porch to see hundreds of crows in a tight group flying in circles around a large oak tree. Their sound was deafening. After a few minutes I noticed that there was a red tailed hawk in the middle of all the commotion. They were all over him, it was amazing as the chased him from tree to tree . The hawk was surrounded on all sides. They were inches from his back. And relentless as more and more joined in. Hopefully he was able to survive…Poor hawk ! If he got away I’m sure he will never go after a crow again!!!

  3. I have some new friends too and one day I heard him so I stood in the middle of my sidewalk and I looked up and I said where are you at and he flew over my apartment door to my roof and then flew back to the tree to let me know he knew I was talking to him and ever since then we’ve been friends!

  4. This is too funny. My boyfriend has been leaving nuts outside of our window sill for the crows for the past few days. Yesterday we noticed that the nuts were gone, and in their place was a waffle. This morning, we looked up and saw another waffle on another window sill for a different apartment unit. I think the crows are trying to thank us with waffles! I would love to set up a camera. They come in the morning, between 6:30am and 7am.

  5. I recently started feeding crows/ravens in my backyard. A crow/raven made a sound and I searched for it and I think it was saying hello. I need to ask you where could I find a video to see how crow/raven says hello to confirm It? Also, I believed they left me a gift which was a partial piece of an apple, is it a gift and what does it mean? Please advise and thank you kindly. I am beginning to enjoy watching them eat, flying and landing in my backyard.

    1. Years ago there used to be a crow at the National Aviary who said hello very clearly (he passed away). However I don’t have a video of it.
      The partial piece of apple may have been left behind when the crow was startled rather than as a gift. If the crows bring bright objects you’ll know for sure that it’s a gift because it’s not something they eat.

  6. I have chickens that I love dearly and they were attacked by a hawk recently. We generally have crows in the trees which I thought frightened hawks? Maybe they weren’t there at the moment. My question is how do I guarantee them to stay there?

    1. Brandi, crows have minds of their own. I don’t know of a way to guarantee they’ll stick around.

  7. Last year after I had begun to feed crows peanuts on the railing of our townhouse deck,
    I received some gifts from them. Twice a shell was left–we don’t live near the sea, although there is a brook and a pond nearby, so maybe these two shells came from there, but only a crow I think would have brought them and placed them where they would know i could see them–right opposite our window by our breakfast table. The most unique “giftt” was a line of four neatly deposited tiny pyramids of sand on top of our black plastic garbage bin. These little pyramids were equadistant from each other and very neat. I think it perhaps was the kind of sand they give their young to aid digestion?!

  8. Thanks for all the stories you all shared. About a month ago I had a crow stop by I named him Pete. Now 4 – 5 times a day he stops by to eat and say hi. It seems when I call his name he shows up in a few minutes. He’s even bringing his lady friend to meet us.

  9. There’s a crow around our house who noticed me last spring, through our living room window doing my makeup with a two-sided mirror… Then he started showing up daily, watching me through the window as I got done up for work every day! I always sit in the same spot outside, and when I garden I tend to leave piles around the yard- little did I know, the crow thought I was leaving him nesting materials, lol! We finally gave him a name- Danny. Occasionally I’ll leave a peanut on the hood of the truck for him, which he takes once I e gone inside… Today, I woke up to a gift from him beside my chair in the yard- a Large, round, sparkly piece from an old chandelier on some rusted wire. I knew it must have been from him! Lol funny how similar it is to my mirror that he always sees me with in the morning! Now I’m not sure if I’m supposed to bring it inside, display it by my chair or? Thoughts?

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