Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Monday, 5 October 2015

Carrion Crow feeding behaviour at Wymondham, Norfolk 4 October 2015

During an evening break from work in Wymondham, I parked in an empty car park for a coffee.  After a short while I could hear a crack sound, this was repeated on two or three occasion.  I investigated the source of this sound and saw a Carrion Crow on the ground pecking at a small object.  The Crow then took the object between its mandibles and flew up to about twenty feet or so and dropped what was undoubtedly a nut.  A second Carrion Crow flew into the car park carrying a nut in its bill, it landed on the ground but soon flew up to a height of about fifteen to twenty feet and dropped the nut onto the hard ground below in order to try and crack the nut.  The Crow flew down to the nut, it was at this time that I noticed the other Carrion Crow had been succesful in opeing the nut and was feeding.  Very intelligent birds.

4 comments:

  1. Very intelligent indeedy...
    our valley is full of walnut trees...
    they grow well and everyone plants a few...
    they are harvested for the kitchen and the oil.

    However, the crows also like them...
    and the practice has spread along the valley of using the cars as nutcrackers!

    No casual dropping here...
    they stand at the side of the road with walnut in wrapper...
    see an approaching car and hop forward to place nut about 70cm from the "kerb"...
    roughly where a tyre would pass over....
    they then fly quickly back to safety.

    I always try and oblige... except for the pair who will put theirs down on a blind bend...
    sorry, chums... the car is a bit more important than helping some tool using corvids.
    But it is wonderful how they behave...
    if you went and cracked one open with your heel and walked away...
    and repeated that a few times...
    they'd start to bring them near to your car...
    or even up to it.

    They know a helper when they meet one...
    it is how "witches" kept their reputation going, I'll warrant!!

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  2. Hi Tim

    Tim, a very interesting account of your Crows intelligently using their skills to open nuts. Before you told me of this, the only account of Crows using vehicles to crush nuts was on a nature programme some years ago from India. I am going to see if I can find similar behaviour here, perhaps my Crows in the car park use vehicles similarly. Would be great to watch.

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    Replies
    1. They ain't daft!
      We've a crow here who's call is "I'm all right Jack"...
      and I'm certain he is...
      he's ten years old at least...
      loves our stag-headed walnut as a calling post...
      and is in fine fettle!!
      I just live the Corvids...
      it is, perhaps, from having a tame Jackdaw placed on my shoulder as a five-year old...
      eye to steely-blue eyeball...
      a formative experience.
      And again watching Ravens playing in an updraught in Scotland....
      the ability to play...
      lovely.

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    2. "I just live the Corvids...
      should read "love"....
      but then again?

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