Can Crows Learn To Pick Up Coins?

Carrion crows living up to their name, Annecy, 2011

4 December 2020

In the late 1990’s technologist and inventor Joshua Klein began thinking about crows and how they thrive in the human landscape. Crows pick up food we’ve left behind but can they learn to do useful things? What about picking up coins? By 2008 he’d invented the crow vending machine.

Klein’s 10-minute TED Talk in February 2008 set the world ablaze. Crows will pick up coins for peanuts!

You may be wondering: Can I have one of these for my backyard?

Klein’s latest Official Crowbox (August 2018) is the size of a backyard feeder. But don’t get too excited. It looks like you need a soldering iron to put it together. Watch how it works here on YouTube.

(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original. video embedded from TED Talks)

4 thoughts on “Can Crows Learn To Pick Up Coins?

  1. Loved it! I’m a crow fan though. Thanks Kate, very interesting, and we know his point has already been made wherein crows will pick up cigarette butts for treats. Win-win.

  2. This was such a fascinating, informative talk. Loved it. We have crows here at our south eastern home in Ohio that we regularly feed. They have begun leaving us gifts and I think they recognize us. Thanks for posting.

  3. My husband and I have noticed that along with their high level of intelligence, crows (and ravens) regularly “play”. They are the only species of birds that we have observed doing this. Where we live, we can walk to an area that is regularly windy, and the crows play for hours, often in pairs, on the wind currents– chasing one another , flying in tandem, etc. Years ago in Southern CA, we watched a number of ravens flying along a cliffside near the ocean. They would catch the wind, flow along with it, then flip over and fly UPSIDE DOWN, and each time they did this, they would let out a beautiful, jubilant “caw” which was clearly an expression of their joy in this fun. I will never forget the sight.

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