So, Mr. Crow is what I call him, and he's been visiting. And eating peanuts, of course, as you can see from the pictures I've posted. I've read birds don't like crows but I don't see much fuss over Mr. Crow. Even the blue jays accept him. I call the male Mr. Crow because he's so magnificent, there's no name that does him justice. And he's a Mr something. He struts, he studies other birds. He's Mr. Crow.
Most every morning Mr. Crow is first to strut in the yard, as if checking it out before he allows his mate to arrive. In other words, he's a gentleman. I toss peanuts, he flutters up to a tree limb. He usually doesn't stay on the ground when I step outside. I used to simply toss peanuts out the window. He'd stare at the peanuts as the squirrels skittered about eating them. The mate would arrive. Then he'd drop down and eat. His mate would stay in the tree a while before eventually joining him. I always say "Mr. Crow" when I toss peanuts. Or "Miss Crow. " Always. And in a cheerful melody.
Today was a milestone. Mr. Crow stayed on the ground when I stepped outside! Progress is baby steps in the world of birds. And a few interesting things happened.
First, some background info. I've always named certain birds that are regular. I have names for a duck couple who come for corn during nesting season (Bubba and Louise). I've named two turkeys who come to strut, display and mate (Lorene and Harold). Bubba and Louise know their names. The turkeys do not. Also, I call the flock of blue jays "Jay, Jay". I say this in a certain way when I toss food so that they see that sound as positive. When they show up, I say it again. The blue jays seem to understand that "Jay, Jay" is their name.
So, here is what happened a few days ago with the crows. They had been showing up up regularly for about a week. Then nothing. So, after a day of no crows, I walked out in the morning with my dog, looked up in the canopy and said, in a normal voice, not loud, "Where's Mr. Crow. Mr. Crow, where are you?" I filled the feeders and took my dog back inside. Within five minutes, I heard a distant "caw, caw." I opened the window and the caws came closer and closer. Soon the caws were in a neighbor's tree. Then my tree. Mr Crow landed in my yard. I grabbed the bag of peanuts, went outside. I repeated "Mr. Crow" when I tossed the peanuts. He stayed on the ground but flew up into the trees when I tossed peanuts, only eating after I left. His mate remained perched until I disappeared. (Needless to say, squirrels came out of the woodwork. I now have a small squirrel problem.)
Anyway, it appears that not only do the crows understand their name, but also seem to respond to the name. Again, I emphasize, "seemed." Who knows?
I called them again yesterday and within 15 minutes I saw them in the yard. This time they didn't talk. They quietly appeared.
This morning, the ducks--Louise and Bubba-- arrived. And so did Mr. Crow. The ducks didn't seem bothered by a crow who is almost as big as they are. Mr. Crow was careful and polite. In fact both of them are always careful and polite. They seem to get there's a community here and rules. (Grackles don't get this at all.)
When I brought out corn for Louise and Bubba, I told the ducks, "That's Mr. Crow. He'll keep the hawks away." My back was to the tree where Mr. Crow perched. But right after I said, "hawks," a loud, intense hawk scream imitation arose from the canopy. I could not tell if the crow imitated the hawk scream or perhaps a hidden blue jay. Blue jays always imitate hawks. I've read crows can imitate sounds, but I've never witnessed a crow imitating a hawk scream. But one of those corvids--blue jay or crow--heard "hawk" and imitated the scream.
The combination of name recognition and response to the word, "hawk"-- the crow's and blue jay's greatest nemesis--leads me to wonder about how advanced their language skills are. Do corvids not only have their own language, but also, understand some of our language? Have they heard humans talk over the years and learned certain words, like hawk? It would seem reasonable that they would hear humans say "hawk" when hawk is nearby or flying over.
Furthermore, it's obvious to me that Mr. Crow learned his name fast. Did he already know humans call him crow? Or did he simply associate "Mr. Crow" with peanuts, and from a distance (maybe 1/8th of a mile) heard it and thought peanut? So, he flew to my yard? Either way, this is a very smart bird.
I know some people find crows annoying, and perhaps a murder of crows is annoying. But I've had a different experience. Grackles are annoying. Geese can be annoying. At times, blue jays can be annoying. But Crows? So far, they've been nothing but gracious and polite.
I like to write about people, animals, dogs. I enjoy ideas, good books about ideas, funny books about ideas, funny people who have ideas, advocates for people who don't have voices to express their ideas, and animals who have ideas we can't understand.