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Thread: Crow Speak

  1. #1

    Crow Speak

    Hello, I don't know if this is the right section to discuss this or even if it is the right website, but I am interested to know if anyone has any experience with crow speak? I've recently developed an interest in birds in general, but more particularly the crow. What I would like to discuss here in particular is the crow's social side, and more specifically their means of communicating. I feed the crows in my back garden every day and it's become a bit of a crow hangout of late. I've started to realise they like solving puzzles and riddles so I've also started hiding food in different spots to see if they can find it. Anyway I digress a bit, what I really mean to say is that being in the presence of crows has enabled me to distinguish a bit between their excited chirps, sounds of warning etc and they use a vast array sounds in order to communicate between themselves.

    I also go into a forest before dawn once a week with a crow caller, and as they start to waken up I will listen to them communicating amongst themselves, mainly by cawing. I also try to communicate with them, and it appears that sometimes they reply directly to me as well. I don't know if I am imagining this, and it is still very much a theory of mine, but it seems that crows communucate in sets of odd/even caws. For example if a crow would caw 4 times, another one would respond with a reply of 2 caws or 6 caws. Normally it would be a different number of caws than the original, however sometimes there can be bursts of the same number of caws from different crows. When they communicate, one crow can very often, without missing a beat, start cawing seamlessly and immediately after one crow finishes it's caws- which shows me that the number of caws a crow emits is not a random occurrence, as others anticipate what is being said to them by the number of caws emitted.

    I also believe that a number of caws can represent different things. For example if I was to take a stab in the dark at a crow cawing three times, I would say that this, in general, is a positive message of safety, denoting to others that the coast is clear so to speak.

    Also, particularly when I'm in the forest, I can't help but think, by the sounds of the caws, that there is a hierarchy within a crow family's social structure and some caws sound much more authoritative than others and they command respect. I don't know if much in-depth work has been done around this subject, but I find it very interesting to think of the hierarchical nature of the crow, and I believe that their social behaviours are so much more complex than most humans realise.

    I find them to be a truly magical and highly intelligent bird, with many different elements to their character. It may also be, due to their complex means of communication, that crows in different corners of the globe have developed subtly different means of communicating with one another. I don't know and as I say I am just theorising here with what I have observed over the past few months so any input is welcome!

  2. #2
    bibliophibian volcaniclastic's Avatar
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    Re: Crow Speak

    Oh man, okay. First: hi! welcome to the forum. Second: I'm going to talk about this until someone shuts me up about it.

    Crows (and ravens, magpies, grackles, etc) are part of the family Corvidae and all share similar traits. The common raven, for instance, is the world's largest songbird, by definition, but corvids in general are known for having an incredibly complex form of communication, and high intelligence. They possess theory of mind, object permanence (aka they recognize themselves as being a unique individual when presented with a mirror, as opposed to thinking what they view is another bird), they form long, complex bonds within their internal hierarchy, and their brain-to-body mass ratio is comparable to primates.

    The answer to your question is kinda way more complicated than I think you're expecting it to be, so I can't answer it directly, but I can direct you to a TON of great resources, though most of them are scientific resources.

    Anything written by John M. Marzluff Ph.D. will be a good start. He's one of the world's leading experts on corvid communications. He's done this TED talk.

    This entire website in general

    Another expert, Bernd Heinrich has written a very easy to understand, very interesting book on corvids.

    This Ologies episode on corvid thanatology (they hold their own funerals!)

    I'm going to stop there before I accidentally write you a research paper on the subject, but definitely delve deeper into this stuff. They're my favourite birds, they're fascinating, and I think the entire world needs to know more about them.
    “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir

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  3. #3
    Kick Ass Little Crow Corvus's Avatar
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    Re: Crow Speak

    Volc has some great sources. Crow vocalizations and social structure has been fairly extensively documented. I'd recommend checking out some articles on google scholar or another database like jstor. When in doubt about a research topic, calling your local library can help with research. The staff will be able to instruct you in how to find scholarly articles online.

    I think corvids are pretty rad. They're super smart and putting out puzzles for them is a great enrichment activity, though it isn't generally a great idea to feed wild animals. Crows have complex family structures, regional differences in vocalization, the capacity for cross generational learning, and the ability to conceptualize revenge. All very interesting.
    “They moaned and squealed, and pressed their snouts to the earth. We are sorry, we are sorry.
    Sorry you were caught, I said. Sorry that you thought I was weak, but you were wrong.”
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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Crow Speak

    Crows are know to like "bright and sparkly" stuff, sometimes nabbing lost jewelry.

    Weirdly, once they recognize you as the one feeding them, they may bring you gifts - like the bright and sparkly jewelry they've nabbed:



    https://www.birdsoutsidemywindow.org...rescue%20them.

    (Hey! Look! Corbin, Corvis, and Volcaniclastic all like crows, but one of these things is not like the others).
    Last edited by B. de Corbin; 13 Apr 2021 at 00:44.
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  5. #5

    Re: Crow Speak

    I love the little guys.

    They can be valued partners and free labor! in ecologically appropriate cropping. Basically, if you have crows, you have an overseeding/subsoil pest problem/solution. They're fun to watch and listen to as well, ofc. I like their cognitive ticks. Love the shiniez....mortally terrified of mylar tape and hi vis yellow reflectors. Reminds me of our soft fire fixation.

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    bibliophibian volcaniclastic's Avatar
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    Re: Crow Speak

    Quote Originally Posted by B. de Corbin View Post
    Crows are know to like "bright and sparkly" stuff, sometimes nabbing lost jewelry.

    Weirdly, once they recognize you as the one feeding them, they may bring you gifts - like the bright and sparkly jewelry they've nabbed:



    https://www.birdsoutsidemywindow.org...rescue%20them.

    (Hey! Look! Corbin, Corvis, and Volcaniclastic all like crows, but one of these things is not like the others).
    In my defense, I didn't know much about them twelve years ago when I made my username
    “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir

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    Kick Ass Little Crow Corvus's Avatar
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    Re: Crow Speak

    Quote Originally Posted by volcaniclastic View Post
    In my defense, I didn't know much about them twelve years ago when I made my username
    My brand has been strong for 11 years. My friends regularly send me crow memes and gift me corvid merch and I'm glad the world has caught up to make this possible and widespread.
    “They moaned and squealed, and pressed their snouts to the earth. We are sorry, we are sorry.
    Sorry you were caught, I said. Sorry that you thought I was weak, but you were wrong.”
    -Madeline Miller, Circe

  8. #8
    bibliophibian volcaniclastic's Avatar
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    Re: Crow Speak

    Quote Originally Posted by Corvus View Post
    My brand has been strong for 11 years. My friends regularly send me crow memes and gift me corvid merch and I'm glad the world has caught up to make this possible and widespread.
    I'm getting a tattoo of a couple of well-known ravens once I scrum up the money for it.
    “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir

    Mostly art.

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