The Surprising Behavior Of Crows

The Surprising Behavior Of Crows
January 2011 in Kirkland

John Marzluff, a bird expert from the University of Washington, discusses how human development has aided and enhanced crows and their society.

John Marzluff's more recent Science Café on "More Surprising Behavior of Crows"
Watch "Nature: A Murder of Crows"

More from "Science Café" »


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I liked this presentation better than his most recent science cafe -- wished I had known about it back then.

The discussion part added a lot. The audience person's story about using the newspaper to block out light and sound from the noisy neighbor was great. Another thing about the discussion is that it shows science as less authoritative and more participatory for anyone.

But I had hoped he would mention a relatively easy way to distinguish crows from ravens. He mentioned in the discussion period about the ravens sticking as a pair to a location more than crows, but that doesn't work well as a quick identifier.

Thanks for posting it.


Hello, Saw the show on the intelligence of crows. I have always been annoyed by people that have made nasty & disparaging remarks about crows. I grew up on the coast (outside the municipality of Powell River on the Sunshine Coast, BC) right on the beach & with the forest around & very few permanent residents - So only 5 kids to play with. We quite normally mimicked, imitated the sounds of the seagulls, blue jays & crows. Blue jays are difficult to copy. But seagulls & crows are much easier (here in the Lower Mainland, I also mimick Canada Geese) may laugh! Our children has laughed & said 'oh mom, stop!' but I do it if i want to. Always have regarded birds as smart - & crows as extra smart & find it fascinating to learn how VERY clever they are. We live now on land with trees in the Fraser Valley. When I step out of our front, say, if a crow is sitting on one of trees round the driveway it will often caw strongly. So I automatically 'caw' back in my best copy, same rhythm. And usually I see their head move a bit, as if: 'what?!' & usually they stop or try once more, I answer & then they stop. I have always inwardly believed, sometimes said to people that they are telling me they are 'king of the castle' (as it were) & swearing at me because I come into their area - in their minds. But they get a shock when I swear back at them what they just swore at me. Well, that's my theory - and I'm sticking to it!!! I speak with my dogs. They over years with us, do add vocalizations which are their vocabulary & I respond in kind - knowing what they are are saying. Sometimes I give the same sounds back to them, sometimes say in words what they are saying to me. I know their vocal expressions. I am laughed at by others even sometimes by family. But, I know my dogs. Never been without one fo more than 5 days & I am 62. And they really laugh that I 'caw' at crows. I find the crows always stop when I 'caw' back to them. I think they are surprised that I am swearing back what they just swore at me. They can laugh all they like. I know, what I know from watching nature. just felt compelled to say that after watching your great video. Only thing I didn't like, was at the end, mentioning something to the effect that we come from the same whatever, I truly believe God created humans......we didn't evolve from monkeys or apes. But we must have great compassion & caring for all animals/birds said my bit, hope you have a good day, judy

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