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   xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday May 3 10:58 PM

May 4th, 2017: Corvidae

Corvidae is a family of over 120 species birds, like crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs, and
nutcrackers. Since jackdaws, crows, and ravens make up more than a third of the family most people just call it the crow family.

You know how tiny dogs think they’re 5 feet tall? Crows think they’re still dinosaurs.
They mostly wear black/dark colors like thugs, thieves, and ne'er-do-wells. They also try to ride for free if they can.
Picture you pull up to a stop sign and Mike Tyson jumps in saying he’s going with you. Are you going to ask for gas money?



No doubt Crows are smart with the same brain to body ratio as primates. They’ve been shown to solve puzzles, mirror self
recognition, play games, and do tricks as part of their courting shtick.
All the crow family do this tail pulling routine. Experts are split on the reason, some think they are trying to steal food,
others think they are playing a game for amusement,
and the really smart ones know it’s because crows are assholes.



Watch out, they often travel in gangs, so don't let one lure you into an alley.

link



Snakeadelic  Thursday May 4 08:15 AM

Ravens ARE dinosaurs. They're bigger than red-tailed hawks, and nearly as big as that snowy owl!

The raven in the bottom row on the left is pulling the tail of a Steller's sea eagle, one of the largest predatory birds in the world (the Harpy eagle is bigger). All flocking corvids that have been studied are tail-pullers. No one's sure why.

The raven hopping on a vulture's back just above the snowy owl is a very rare species, living only in the area of the Bale Mountains in the Ethiopian highlands. The black-and-grey birds are crows, probably hooded crows--the house crow looks very similar but has less black on the head and neck. I think the one to the right of the snowy owl is a house crow.

Someone should put together a post of the jays and magpies, which are kinda the drag queen section of the family! The magpie-jays, genus Calocitta, the Central American group, genus Cyanocorax, and the southeast Asian jays, genus Urocissa, are all spectacularly colorful and very, very smart.



footfootfoot  Thursday May 4 09:16 AM

There are three crows that hang around my neighborhood. They used to like to raid my compost pile and I would give them dried corn that I had grown. (Bloody Butcher) They never got too close to me, but sometimes they'd follow me around town if they saw me. They'd usually start cawing when they saw me out and about. I wondered if they actually recognized me or if it was coincidental.

Here is Ian Frazier's take on Crows:

"Count on Crows"
They're tomorrow's bird for all the right reasons, says a local employee

By Ian Frazier, DoubleTake


Lately, Iıve been working for the crows, and so far itıs the best job I ever
had. I fell into it by a combination of preparedness and luck. Iıd been
casting around a bit, looking for a new direction in my career, and one
afternoon when I was out on my walk I happened to see some crows fly by. One
of them landed on a telephone wire just above my head. I looked at him for a
moment, and then on impulse I made a skchhh noise with my teeth and lips. He
seemed to like that; I saw his tail make a quick upward bobbing motion at
the sound. Encouraged, I made the noise again, and again his tail bobbed. He
looked at me closely with one eye, then turned his beak and looked at me
with the other, meanwhile readjusting his feet on the wire. After a few
minutes, he cawed and flew off to join his companions. I had a good feeling
I couldnıt put into words. Basically, I thought the meeting had gone well,
and as it turned out, I was right. When I got home there was a message from
the crows saying I had the job.

That first interview proved indicative of the crowsı business style. They
are very informal and relaxed, unlike their public persona, and mostly they
leave me alone. Iım given a general direction of what they want done, but
the specifics of how to do it are up to me. For example, the crows have long
been unhappy about public misperceptions of them: that they raid other
birdsı nests, drive songbirds away, eat garbage and dead things, canıt sing,
etc.‹all of which is completely untrue once you know them. My first task was
to take these misperceptions and turn them into a more positive image. I
decided the crows needed a slogan that emphasized their strengths as a
species. The slogan I came up with was Crows: We Want to Be Your Only Bird.
I told this to the crows, they loved it, and weıve been using it ever since..


Crows speak a dialect of English rather like that of the remote hill people
of the Alleghenies. If youıre not accustomed to it, it can be hard to
understand. In their formal speech they are as measured and clear as a radio
announcer from the Midwest‹though, as I say, they are seldom formal with me..
(For everyday needs, of course, they caw.) Their unit of money is the empty
soda bottle, which trades at a rate of about 20 to the dollar. In the recent
years of economic boom, the crows have quietly amassed great power. With
investment capital based on their nationwide control of everything that gets
run over on the roads, they have bought a number of major companies.
Pepsi-Cola is now owned by the crows, as well as Knight Ridder newspapers
and the company that makes Tombstone frozen pizzas. The New York
Metropolitan Opera is now wholly crow-owned.

In order to stay competitive, the crows recently merged with the ravens.
This was done not only for reasons of growth but also to better serve those
millions who live and work near crows. In the future, both crows and ravens
will be known by the group name of Crows, so if you see a bird and wonder
which it is, you donıt have to waste any time: Officially and legally, itıs
a crow. The net result of this, of course, is that now there are a lot more
crows‹which is exactly what the crows want. Studies theyıve sponsored show
that there could be anywhere from 10 to a thousand times more crows than
there already are, with no strain on carrying capacity. A healthy increase
in crow numbers would make basic services like cawing loudly outside your
bedroom window at six in the morning available to all. In this area, as in
many others, the crows are thinking very long term.


If more people in the future get a chance to know crows as I have done, they
are in for a real treat. Because I must say, the crows have been absolutely
wonderful to me. I like them not just as highly profitable business
associates but as friends. Their aggressive side, admittedly quite strong in
disputes with scarlet tanagers and other birds, has been nowhere in evidence
around me. I could not wish for any companions more charming. The other day
I was having lunch with an important crow in the park‹me sipping from a
drinking fountain while he ate peanuts taken from a squirrel. In between
sharp downward raps of his bill on the peanut shell to poke it open, he drew
me out with seemingly artless questions. Sometimes the wind would push the
shell to one side and he would steady it with one large foot while
continuing the raps with his beak. And all the while, he kept up his
attentive questioning, making me feel that, business considerations aside,
he was truly interested in what I had to say.

Crows: We Want to Be Your Only Bird. I think this slogan is worth
repeating, because thereıs a lot behind it. Of course, the crows donıt
literally want (or expect) to be the only species of bird left on the
planet. They admire and enjoy other kinds of birds and even hope that there
will still be some remaining in limited numbers out of doors as well as in
zoos and museums. But in terms of daily usage, the crows hope that you will
think of them first when youıre looking for those quality-of-life
intangibles usually associated with birds. Singing, for example: Crows
actually can sing, and beautifully, too; so far, however, they have not been
given the chance. In the future, with fewer other birds around, they feel
that they will be.

Whether theyıre good-naturedly harassing an owl caught out in daylight, or
carrying bits of sticks and used gauze bandage in their beaks to make their
colorful, free-form nests, or simply landing on the sidewalk in front of you
with their characteristic double hop, the crows have become a part of the
fabric of our days. When you had your first kiss, the crows were there,
flying around nearby. They were cawing overhead at your college graduation,
and worrying a hamburger wrapper through the wire mesh of a trash container
in front of the building when you went in for your first job interview, and
flapping past the door of the hospital where you held your first-born child..
The crows have always been with us, and they promise that by growing the
species at a predicted rate of 17 percent a year, in the future theyıll be
around even more.


The crows arenıt the last Siberian tigers, and they donıt pretend to be.
Theyıre not interested in being a part of anybodyıs dying tradition. But
then how many of us deal with Siberian tigers on a regular basis? Usually,
the nontech stuff we deal with‹besides humans‹is squirrels, pigeons,
raccoons, rats, mice, and a few kinds of bugs. The crows are confident
enough to claim that they will be able to compete effectively even with
these familiar and well-entrenched providers. Indeed, they have already
begun to displace pigeons in the category of walking around under park
benches with chewing gum stuck to their feet. Scampering nervously in
attics, sneaking through pet doors, and gnawing little holes in things are
all in the crowsı expansion plans.

I would not have taken this job if I did not believe, strongly and deeply,
in the crows. And I do. I could go on and on about the crowsı generosity,
taste in music, sense of family values; the "buddy system" they invented to
use against other birds, the work they do for the Shriners, and more. But
theyıre paying me a lot of bottles to say this‹I canıt expect everybody to
believe me. I do ask, if youıre unconvinced, that you take this simple test:
Next time youıre looking out a window or driving in a car, notice if thereıs
a crow in sight. Then multiply that one crow by lots and lots of crows, and
youıll get an idea of what the next few years will bring. In the bird
department, no matter what, the future is going to be almost all crows,
almost all the time. Thatıs just a fact.

So why not just accept it, and learn to appreciate it, as so many of us have
already? The crows are going to influence our culture and our world in
beneficial ways we canıt even imagine today. Much of what they envision I am
not yet at liberty to disclose, but I can tell you that it is magnificent.
They are going to be birds like weıve never seen. In their dark, jewel-like
eyes burns an ambition to be more and better and to fly around all over the
place constantly. Theyıre smart, theyıre driven, and theyıre cominı at us.
The crows : Letıs get ready to welcome tomorrowıs only bird.



glatt  Thursday May 4 09:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by footfootfoot View Post
They'd usually start cawing when they saw me out and about. I wondered if they actually recognized me or if it was coincidental.
I read somewhere in the past that experiments have been done that show crows recognize people. Especially ones who have been mean to them. I suppose the opposite is true.


footfootfoot  Thursday May 4 09:29 AM

And David Quammen:

Has Success Spoiled The Crow?

by David Quammen

The Puzzling Case File on the World's Smartest Bird


Any person with no steady job and no children naturally finds time for a sizeable amount of utterly idle speculation. For instance, me--I've developed a theory about crows. It goes like this:

Crows are bored. They suffer from being too intelligent for their station in life. Respectable evolutionary success is simply not, for these brainy and complex birds, enough. They are dissatisfied with the narrow goals and horizons of that tired old Darwinian struggle. On the lookout for a new challenge. See them there, lined up conspiratorially along a fence rail or a high wire, shoulder to shoulder, alert, self-contained, missing nothing. Feeling discreetly thwarted. Waiting, like an ambitious understudy, for their break. Dolphins and whales and chimpanzees get all the fawning publicity, great fuss made over their near-human intelligence. But don't be fooled. Crows are not stupid. Far from it. They are merely underachievers. They are bored.

Most likely it runs in their genes, along with the black plumage and the talent for vocal mimicry. Crows belong to a remarkable family of birds known as the Corvidae, also including ravens, magpies, jackdaws, and jays, and the case file on this entire clan is so full of prodigious and quirky behavior that it cries out for interpretation not by an ornithologist but a psychiatrist. Or, failing that, some ignoramus with a supple theory. Computerized ecologist can give us those fancy equations depicting the whole course of a creature's life history in terms of energy allotment to hunger and motherly love, but they haven't yet programmed in a variable for boredom. No wonder the Corvidae dossier is still packed with unanswered questions.

At first glance, though, all is normal: crows and their corvid relatives seem to lead an exemplary birdlike existence. The home life is stable and protective. Monogamy is the rule, and most mated pairs stay together until death. Courtship is elaborate, even rather tender, with the male doing a good bit of bowing and dancing and jiving, not to mention supplying his intended with food; eventually he offers the first scrap of nesting material as a sly hint that they get on with it. While she incubates a clutch of four to six eggs, he continues to furnish the groceries, and stands watch nearby at night. Then for a month after hatching, both parents dote on the young. Despite strenuous care, mortality among fledglings is routinely high, sometimes as high as 70 percent, but all this crib death is counterbalanced by the longevity of the adults. Twenty-year-old crows are not unusual, and one raven in captivity survived to age twenty-nine. Anyway, corvids show no inclination toward breeding themselves up to huge numbers, filling the countryside with their kind (like the late passenger pigeon, or an infesting variety of insect) until conditions shift for the worse, and a vast population collapses. Instead, crows and their relatives reproduce at roughly the same stringent rate though periods of bounty or austerity, maintaining levels of population that are modest but consistent, and which can be supported throughout any foreseeable hard times. In this sense they are astute pessimists. One consequence of such modesty of demographic ambition is to leave them with excess time, and energy, not desperately required for survival.

The other thing they possess in excess is brain-power. They have the largest cerebral hemispheres, relative to body size, of any avian family. On various intelligence tests--to measure learning facility, clock-reading skills, the ability to count--they have made other birds look doltish. One British authority, Sylvia Bruce Wilmore, pronounces them "quicker on the uptake" than certain well-thought-of mammals like the cat and the monkey, and admits that her own tamed crow so effectively dominated the other animals in her household that this bird "would even pick up the spaniel's leash and lead him around the garden!" Wilmore also adds cryptically: "Scientists at the University of Mississippi have been successful in getting the cooperation of Crows." But she fails to make clear whether that was as test subjects, or on a consultative basis.

From other crow experts come the same sort of anecdote. Crows hiding food in all manner of unlikely spots and relying on their uncanny memories, like adepts at the game of Concentration, to find the caches again later. Crows using twenty-three distinct forms of call to communicate various sorts of information to each other. Crows in flight dropping clams and walnuts on the highway pavement, to break open the shells so the meats can be eaten. Then there's the one about the hooded crow, a species whose range includes Finland: "In this land Hoodies show great initiative during winter when men fish through holes in the ice. Fishermen leave baited lines in the water to catch fish and on their return they have found a Hoodie pulling in the line with its bill, and walking away from the hole, then putting down the line and walking back on it to stop it sliding, and pulling it again until [the crow] catches the fish on the end of the line." These birds are bright.

And probably--according to my theory--they are too bright for their own good. You know the pattern. Time on their hands. Under-employed and over-qualified. Large amounts of potential just lying fallow. Peck up a little corn, knock back a few grasshoppers, carry a beak-full of dead rabbit home for the kids, then fly over to sit on a fence rail with eight or ten cronies and watch some poor farmer sweat like a sow at the wheel of his tractor. An easy enough life, but is this it? Is this all?

I f you don't believe me just take my word for it: Crows are bored.
And so there arise, as recorded in the case file, these certain . . . no, symptoms is too strong. Call them, rather, patterns of gratuitous behavior.
For example, they play a lot.

Animal play is a reasonably common phenomenon, at least among certain mammals, especially in the young of those species. Play activities--by definition--are any that serve no immediate biological function, and which therefore do not directly improve the animal's prospects for survival and reproduction. The corvids, according to expert testimony, are irrepressibly playful. In fact, they show the most complex play known in birds. Ravens play toss with themselves in the air, dropping and catching again a small twig. They lie on their backs and juggle objects (in one recorded case, a rubber ball) between beak and feet. They jostle each other sociably in a version of "king of the mountain" with no real territorial stakes. Crows are equally frivolous. They play a brand of rugby, wherein one crow picks up a while pebble or a bit of shell and flies from tree to tree, taking a friendly bashing from its buddies until it drops the token. And they have a comedy-acrobatic routine: allowing themselves to tip backward dizzily from a wire perch, holding a loose grip so as to hang upside down, spreading out both wings, then daringly letting go with one foot; finally switching feet to let go with the other. Such shameless hot-dogging is usually performed for a small audience of other crows.



Cont.



footfootfoot  Thursday May 4 09:30 AM

cont.

There is also an element of the practical jokester. Of the Indian house crow, Wilmore says: ". . . this Crow has a sense of humor, and revels in the discomfort caused by its playful tweaking at the tails of other birds, and at the ears of sleeping cows and dogs; it also pecks the toes of flying foxes as they hang sleeping in their roosts." This crow is a laff riot. Another of Wilmore's favorite species amuses itself, she says, by "dropping down on sleeping rabbits and rapping them over the skull or settling down on drowsy cattle and startling them." What we have here is actually a distinct subcategory of playfulness known, where I come from at least, as Cruisin' For A Bruisin'. It has been clinically linked to boredom.

Further evidence: Crows are known to indulge in sunbathing. "When sunning at fairly high intensity," says another British corvidist, "the bird usually positions itself sideways on to the sun and erects its feathers, especially those on head, belly, flanks, and rump." So the truth is out: Under those sleek ebony feathers, they are tan. And of course sunbathing (like ice-fishing, come to think of it) constitutes prima facie proof of a state of paralytic ennui.

But the final and most conclusive bit of data comes from a monograph by K. E. L. Simmons published in the Journal of Zoology, out of London. (Perhaps it's for deep reasons of national character that the British lead the world in the study of crows; in England, boredom has great cachet.) Simmon's paper is curiously entitled "Anting and the Problem of Self-Stimulation." Anting as used here is simply the verb (or to be more precise, participial) form of the insect. In ornithological parlance, it means that a bird--for reasons that remain mysterious--has taken to rubbing itself with mouthfuls of squashed ants. Simmons writes: "True anting consists of highly stereotyped movements whereby the birds apply ants to their feathers or expose their plumage to the ants." Besides direct application, done with the beak, there is also a variant called passive anting: The bird intentionally squats on a disturbed ant-hill, allowing (inviting) hundreds of ants to swarm over its body.
Altogether strange behavior, and especially notorious for it are the corvids. Crows avidly rub their bodies with squashed ants. They wallow amid busy ant colonies and let themselves become acrawl. They revel in formication.
Why? One theory is that the formic acid produced (as a defense chemical) by some ants is useful for conditioning feathers and ridding the birds of external parasites. But Simmons cites several other researchers who have independently reached a different conclusion. One of these scientists declared that the purpose of anting "is the stimulation and soothing of the body," and that the general effect "is similar to that gained by humanity from the use of external stimulants, soothing ointments, counter-irritants (including formic acid) and perhaps also smoking." Another compared anting to "the human habits of smoking and drug-taking" and maintained that "it has no biological purpose but is indulged in for its own sake, for the feeling of well-being and ecstasy it induces . . ."

You know the pattern. High intelligence, large promise. Early success without great effort. Then a certain loss of purposefulness. Manifestation of detachment and cruel humor. Boredom. Finally the dangerous spiral into drug abuse.

But maybe it's not too late for the corvids. Keep that in mind next time you run into a raven, or a magpie, or a crow. Look the bird in the eye. Consider its frustrations. Try to say something stimulating.



glatt  Thursday May 4 09:42 AM

I just remembered. a few years ago, there was a hell of a racket outside. A small group of crows were flying around in a tight, moving circle, cawing really loudly. I could hear them inside. So I went to the window to see, and the they were circling around above a fox that was trotting through the neighborhood.

No way was that fox going to surprise anything in its path.

I wonder if the fox had taken a crow earlier and they were harassing it for revenge, or if they were just being altruistic to the other small animals out there by warning them of the danger.



footfootfoot  Thursday May 4 10:34 AM

I bet the former. They really seem to be ball busters, I bet the warning to other possible prey was motivated more by fucking up the fox's shit than altruism.

If I'm not mistaken Crows also eat other birds' eggs. I see red winged black birds hassling crows all the time.



Diaphone Jim  Thursday May 4 12:53 PM

Yep, very boring birds.
I usually have at least one nest nearby every year and they always entertain.
Nearly full grown youngsters will often sit right next to ripe fruit and beg loudly to be fed.
When a group raises holy hell, I go out to watch a hawk or owl try to avoid mayhem.
Is that some kind of striped hyena top left in the second group of pics?



xoxoxoBruce  Thursday May 4 03:18 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snakeadelic View Post
All flocking corvids that have been studied are tail-pullers. No one's sure why.
I told you, it's because they're assholes.
Quote:
Someone should put together a post of the jays and magpies, which are kinda the drag queen section of the family! The magpie-jays, genus Calocitta, the Central American group, genus Cyanocorax, and the southeast Asian jays, genus Urocissa, are all spectacularly colorful and very, very smart.
Someone? Someone! What are you, chopped liver? Go to it, someone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt View Post
I read somewhere in the past that experiments have been done that show crows recognize people. Especially ones who have been mean to them. I suppose the opposite is true.
Yeah, some college had some birds with a grudge against a particular person so they made some masks like him and anyone wearing the mask would get dive bombed regardless of height weight or sex.


xoxoxoBruce  Thursday May 4 03:43 PM

Almost forgot, people have preferences, some want Canaries, Parrots or hunting Falcons.
This corvid chose an Emo.



footfootfoot  Thursday May 4 03:46 PM

Passerby: Where'd ya get that thing?

Crow: Hot Topic, There's tons of them there.



DanaC  Thursday May 4 03:54 PM

I love corvids. My favourite bird family. We get fucking loads of them round here.



That owl's face is a picture.



Gravdigr  Thursday May 4 04:10 PM

Either ravens are a lot bigger than I thought, or some of you have some small red-tailed hawks...



xoxoxoBruce  Thursday May 4 04:13 PM

Ravens grow 3.5 to 5 ft wingspan.
I've seen birds fly over at night as big as the moon.



BigV  Thursday May 4 09:12 PM

They're big.

You see one, you know it. Um, how come that crow keeps getting bigger? That kind of big.



BigV  Thursday May 4 09:13 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by footfootfoot View Post
Passerby: Where'd ya get that thing?

Crow: Hot Topic, There's tons of them there.
*applause*


xoxoxoBruce  Friday May 5 12:07 AM

I don't think that girl is very big, the bird looks like it's length is about the same as the seat to the floor.
How high do you think the seat is?

Hmm, on second look, maybe the floor to the top of her knee



footfootfoot  Saturday May 6 08:17 PM

18" is pretty standard for seat heights



Clodfobble  Sunday May 7 12:15 AM

I'm confused as to why you all think that is a girl. It clearly looks like a boy to me.



xoxoxoBruce  Sunday May 7 12:27 AM

Them British rock groups is the only boys with girly hair, and we're gonna burn their albums. Tell me why you think that's a boy?



Diaphone Jim  Sunday May 7 12:20 PM

Hmm, now that you mention it, I'm not sure there is enough info to determine his/her sex for sure.



xoxoxoBruce  Sunday May 7 01:49 PM

That's Clodstirupshitfobble, knowing Emos strive for andromony, sees a chance to plant the seed of doubt. Next it'll be Crow or Raven.


She keeps us on our toes, that's why we love her.



Clodfobble  Sunday May 7 04:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
Them British rock groups is the only boys with girly hair, and we're gonna burn their albums. Tell me why you think that's a boy?
Primarily because that's a boy goth's outfit, not a girl goth's, which I say as someone who wasn't goth herself but spent a fair amount of time around them in high school. It's what Brandon Lee wore in The Crow.

Secondly, that ratty hair at the top of his head has boy-coarseness. Girls treat their long hair better, even when they're fighting the Man's beauty norms. And third, the shirt makes it hard to tell, but those would be some very flat tits for a girl, even a flat-chested one.


xoxoxoBruce  Monday May 8 12:16 AM

Well the first thing I looked for is boobs, as I do in any picture. Whazat? The Sphinx. Got boobs? I love the small boobs, so I don't have to chase the nipple around when things get active. Uh... back to the picture at hand.
My contact with the offline world predates Emos, so I didn't know there was male or female wardrobes.
Ratty hair? All I see is a rather casual part but transporting a raven I imagine that would come with the territory.
There's a lot of things you see that mere mortals never notice, so I'll bow to your superior skills of detection and youth culture knowledge.
If I see the little bastard I'll kick his ass for posing as a girl.



footfootfoot  Monday May 8 08:55 AM

There she goes, forcing her cis-gender stereotypes on innocent crow wielding commuters.



Happy Monkey  Monday May 8 12:08 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clodfobble View Post
I'm confused as to why you all think that is a girl. It clearly looks like a boy to me.
Because it looks like a younger Mary Lynn Rajskub, and she's a woman.


DanaC  Monday May 8 03:56 PM

Looks like a lass to me. A lass with tomboyish goth fashion (pretty much the kind of fashion that used to appeal to me as a teenager) and grungy hair - not all girls treat their long hair better.

It's quite possibly a lad - but to me it looks more like a lass. The way they're sitting - posture and demeanor looks female.



Clodfobble  Monday May 8 05:35 PM

All right, well, I just spent way too long trying to track down the origin of the image (appears to have been taken in the Russian metro), but there's too much online noise now with the thing gone viral. Everyone seems to agree it's a girl.




Everyone except me, that is. I can only hope that the poor androgynous lad comes forward to claim his fame.



xoxoxoBruce  Monday May 8 11:10 PM

I'm betting on you. The rest of us superficial boobs pay good money to find out she has a larger dick than we do, because we take her at face value... through beer goggles. Every time it happens I get angry, but rationalize I already spent the $20, and like Digr says, $20 is $20.



Your reply here?

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