A comment on the video says: “In Canada, even the birds play hockey!”
(video by birdinginvancouver on YouTube)
In 2015 the International Coastal Research Center in Otsuhi, Japan figured out how to keep crows from pillaging their headquarters building. With the advice of a crow expert they posted “Crows Do Not Enter” signs and the crows stayed away! Here’s how it happened.
On 11 March 2011 the town where ICRC is located, Otsuchi, Japan, was devastated by nearly 30 foot waves from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The photo below of the Kirikiri section shows how Otsuchi was wiped out.
The International Coastal Research Center headquarters was severed damaged as well (the three-story building in the photo below).
However, by 2015 the local jungle crows (Corvus macrorhynchos) could not resist stealing the damaged materials inside the building. During the nesting season they flew into the open building, ripped insulation off the pipes and carried it to their nests.
To get rid of the crows the ICRC asked for help from Tsutomu Takeda, an environmental scientist and crow expert. Rather than using scarecrow tactics he hung large signs on the pipes, visible from outdoors, that said “Crows Do Not Enter.”
As soon as the signs went up the crows stayed away. This method was still working two years later when Mother Nature Network published the news.
Can the crows read the signs? No, but people can and when they do they look up to see if crows are in the building. The crows hate it when people watch them stealing nesting material so they stopped doing it.
If the signs worked on jungle crows in Japan, perhaps they’ll work on American crows, too. I wonder if our winter crow flock would stop roosting at the University of Pittsburgh if they put “Crows Do Not Enter” signs in the trees. 😉
(This post was inspired by MNN: Wild Crows seem to obey Do Not Enter signs, and a report from the ICRC which is no longer online. Photos are from Wikimedia Commons, the ICRC Recovery Project website and the now-missing ICRC article. I encourage you to click on the captions to see the originals.)
Crows are common in the city but ravens are rare so I was surprised to hear a raven this week in Schenley Park. It called and circled overhead waiting for its companion to arrive. “Brrrock! Brrrock!” When the second raven caught up they flew away together.
I see ravens in town about twice a year but I only hear them make the Brrrock call. If I lived where common ravens (Corvus corax) are common, I’d hear their wide variety of sounds.
This video from Anchorage, Alaska gives you an idea of the ravens’ vocal range. He starts with Brrrock. Then he gets creative.
(video by dougbrown47 on YouTube)
In the U.K. and Ireland there’s a bird like a crow with a red bill, red legs, and a very odd name.
Red-billed choughs are found in Europe, Asia, and northern Africa but the smallest race, the Cornish chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), is endemic to the British Isles.
Centuries ago red-billed choughs were common on the south coast of England where they were revered enough to appear in heraldry. The City of Canterbury’s coat of arms (at left below) includes three choughs from Saint Thomas Becket’s coat of arms. (Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered in the Cathedral in 1170 by followers of King Henry II.)
A second example comes from the less famous Peter of Bowhay whose arms contain a single chough (at right).
The word “chough” looks odd because the gh sound has gone out of use. In most English dialects it’s now silent (light or neighbor) or pronounced “f” (enough or laugh). Here’s what the <gh> used to sound like:
The name chough, now pronounced CHUF, originally mimicked the bird’s sound. Can you hear the old resemblance in these chough calls?
In the 20th century Cornish choughs disappeared from England though they remained in Ireland, Wales, western Scotland and the Isle of Man. In 2001 choughs returned to nest in Cornwall.
Nowadays you can see and hear them at Cornwall’s cliffs, calling “Chough!” as they fly.
(photo and audio credits are in the captions. Click on the captions to see the originals.)
(*) <gh> has a throaty sound in Scottish English. Elsewhere chough is sometimes said “shuf.”
Who’s been pulling up the plant labels in the native garden at Arlington County Parks, Virginia? The security camera shows the perpetrators.
The crows think those plant labels are in the way as they search for food. 😉
(video from the Capital Naturalist on YouTube)
Sometimes crows can’t help it. They cause trouble at home and abroad.
Crows At Home:
Andrew Mumma reported that the population roosting on Pitt’s campus exploded Wednesday night, October 17, resulting in slippery, stinky sidewalks on Thursday morning.
Pitt responded Thursday evening by playing the “Crow Scare” tape near Clapp Hall. (Click here to hear it.) When Karen Lang left work around 7pm she saw a peregrine falcon, maybe Terzo, dive bombing the crow zone at Alumni Hall. Did the crows annoy him? Or was it the kakking noise on the tape?
The caption for the Wikimedia photo above says “A sign warning people about crows in Fukuzumi-cho, Eniwa, Hokkaido.” It’s probably referring to jungle crows (Corvus macrorhynchos), also called large-billed crows, a common bird in Japanese cities.
Large-billed crows are famous for causing problems in Japan.
So what is this sign about? I can’t read Japanese but maybe you can. Here’s a closeup.
If you know what this says, please leave a comment with the answer. I would love to know what the crows are up to!
UPDATE: See the Comments below for two translations.
(two sizes of the same photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)
I heard them coming last Friday when 50 crows flew over my neighborhood late in the afternoon. I heard them again Monday morning before dawn, flying over my house in the dark.
Pittsburgh’s winter crow flock is building. Right now the number is small but by Halloween we’ll see 1,000 of them at dusk near Pitt’s Alumni Hall. Even more of them in November.
By December expect 10,000 crows. In March they’ll be gone.
Winter’s coming. Get ready for crows.
p.s. Here’s what they were like last year By the Light of the Supermoon.
(photos by Kate St. John, November 2013)
On Labor Day, let’s watch some crows at work.
At a theme park in France trained crows are showing humans not to litter. At least that’s one of the ideas behind teaching crows to pick up cigarette butts at Puy du Fou.
The historical theme park in Les Epresses, France has falconers who conduct live bird shows featuring falcons, owls, vultures and crows. One day one of the crows picked up litter instead of the prop he was cued for. The crowd was impressed.
Management was impressed too so now they have six trained crows who pick up cigarette butts in exchange for a treat.
The crows love their job. Their trainer says they’d do it all day if you let them. Click here or on the image below to watch the crows in action.
Read more in this article from Popular Science.
(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)
Last week in Newfoundland our birding tour witnessed an amazing bird interaction when a merlin attacked a big black corvid in the air. It happened so fast that we had to think hard about the birds’ identities.
Yes the attacker was a merlin — a small, streaky dark, very fast falcon that made this sound as it attacked. (Xeno-canto XC332445: alarm calls of merlin pair recorded by Pritam Baruah in Churchill, MB, August 2016)
But was the big black bird a crow or a raven?
Fellow traveler Trina Anderson captured the action with her camera. Before we saw her photos we could only identify the corvid by size and behavior. We decided “raven” based on the relative size of the two birds and the behavior of the raven.
It’s hard to tell ravens from crows unless you have some practice. Get tips on how to tell them apart in this 3 minute video from The Raven Diaries: Ravens vs Crows, they’re different!
Do you like blue jays?
I do, but I often encounter people who don’t.
Everyone agrees that blue jays are pretty but a lot of people don’t like their manner. When a blue jay enters the room, he takes up a lot of space.
Lesley The Bird Nerd changed her mind about blue jays as she got to know them in her backyard in Canada. She learned about their intelligence and faithfulness, and how to identify them as individuals.
Watch her video to see what’s cool about blue jays. Lesley saves the best for last.
p.s. Blue jay faces are unique. Here’s Lesley’s video on how she identifies them as individuals.