Tag Archives: corvus

Where’s Jenn?

I apologize for the lack of posts, however it’s not due to a lack of doing corvid-ee things!  Beyond the constant working on my dissertation (about American crows), the past few weeks have been busy with a bit of travel, particularly to natural history museums, and now to the 50th Annual Animal Behavior Society Conference (which starts tomorrow).

I’ve got a lot to talk about when I’m back home, but for now I’m going to leave you with some photos from my visit to the American Museum of Natural History‘s collections.  Natural history museums have wonderful public displays, but the bulk of their materials are in their collections, not on display.  The AMNH has six floors of bird specimens alone, and I was able to examine Corvus species I’ve never seen in life, heck, they had all of them, so I learned a LOT about the fine physical features of birds I’ve only seen in photographs and illustrations.  There is a huge difference between a photograph and a bird in the hand…including me squealing and babbling incoherently in excitement.

Sitting in front of a collections cabinet at the AMNH, looking through skeletals of various Corvus species.  (Shirt is from Raven’s Brew Coffee.)

Perhaps the most exciting specimens for me. These are Grey Crows (Corvus tristis), a species found all over New Guinea. We know very, very little about them, but we do know that their coloration throughout their life history is just, well, bizarre. It was an unbelievable treat to get to see and handle these specimens!

I have joined the Coyot.es Network!

The Corvid Blog and myself have joined the ranks of the Coyot.es network and I’m excited to be here!  For my Tumblr followers, I encourage you to check out this network of interesting biodiversity blogs!  My posts will still show up on Tumblr, but they will be created and primarily managed here.

I feel this image is relevant to this development:

This image was taken by Dave Stiles in Yellowstone National Park, found via his Flickr account. Click the image to visit the original page for this image and let Dave know how awesome this photo is!

Ravens tend to materialize, as if by magic, when it comes to kills by large predators.  Coyotes, while excellent hunters in their own right, also take advantage of mountain lion and wolf kills, so both raven and coyote are common to see around such sites.  Nothing like the two mythological tricksters spending a moment together 😉

Crow Display Question

From combackzinc via Tumblr:

“I have three non-releasable American Crows, and my wild-reared adult ‘male’ displays some interesting calls and behavior. Could I get you opinion on what’s going on here? w w w.youtube.c o m/watch?v=LaGR4WXi4FQ”

The short answer, unfortunately, is that I don’t know (I’m referring to the bird that begins standing on the “stump”).  The long of it is that I’ve seen this kind of call/display (bow followed by a guttural/soft/odd vocalization) before, in many contexts.   I’ve seen it used when two birds greet one another at a communal foraging site or at their home territory.  I’ve seen it used after a territorial issue is resolved between two families.  I’ve seen birds, totally alone (i.e. no one to signal to), just sort of start up these kinds of calls.  I’ve also seen it as a common posture for birds in captivity to mimic certain sounds. It could also be a self-soothing, and sometimes even aberrant, behavior in the context of captivity.

As it stands with American crows, we still have a lot left to uncover about their vocalizations.  Heck, many people don’t even realize crows make a lot more sounds than just the classic “CAW!”.  Their repertoire includes the sounds in the above video, soft cooing (a personal favorite), atonal rattling, musical rattling, and mishmashes of bizarre clicking and gurgling noises, not to mention they can mimic humans.  (Here’s a website that has the atonal rattle call followed by the cooing.  And here’s another site with lots of American crow calls and some other corvids.) …I’m sure you know all this, having raised and kept captive crows, but I thought I’d mention these things for my other readers.

I apologize that I can’t give you much insight in to your bird’s behavior, but I do recommend recording the context in which it occurs and trying to work from there.  I’d love to know what you find, or have found!  I firmly believe crows have far more complex vocal communication than what we are currently aware of, and that it’s highly, highly context dependant, the work just needs to get done 🙂

Also, thank you so much for including the second paragraph disclaimer on your video 🙂

The Alala

Did you know that one of the world’s most endangered species of bird is a crow?  The Hawaiian crow—ʻAlalā to native Hawaiians—is a species of crow endemic to Hawaii and is currently extinct in the wild, but conservation efforts to save and breed the species has taken the captive population to over 100 birds.  Expected reintroduction dates for this species are tentatively set for 2014.  Here’s a blog article (with video) about the progress of the Hawaiian crow.

(Image from the San Diego Zoo blogs.)

Crow Research Group

This is the video accompanying the article my university wrote about my adviser, Anne Clark, and our study population of crows.  I’ve spent six years of my life working with these specific birds, and hours upon hours at the compost site in the film, haha.

Apparently ABC News picked up the story as well!

Also, I promise to explain exactly why it’s been so long since I updated.  Next post though!

Enjoy!