Bird Brain - Bird Intelligence.

A proposal for a vending machine for Crows

Introducing: The Crowbox project

Now everybody's doing it!

Featuring "The White Crow" / "Mrs X" / "The Angel Raven" / and "The Devil Raven"

After I learned about these home made 'Crow Vending Machine Projects'… I thought "Why go searching through outer space for 'Grey' alien minds to contact: when local space has all of these 'Black' alien minds, near to hand?"
I decided to create a game - I did not realize at the time that it would be the bridge to actual contact - with very simple rules and prizes.
"Proximity seeking behavior will be rewarded. The closer the proximity the larger the reward." … ☜ ☜ ☜ That's it: the whole original idea.
The reward item chosen to give away: dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels - "Crow Gold" … more on that in a moment.

From other researchers I had heard that Corvids:
  • Are intelligent
  • Have facial recognition
  • Have strong family structures
  • Have strong social structures
  • Can be altruistic
  • Can learn from each other
  • Hold funerals for their dead
  • Have 'Theory of Mind' (I.E. they know that you know)
  • Are very suspicious of new foods. (Especially Ravens!)

  • FAQ About Crows.
    Why Do Crows Gather?

    Calling Crows (In Crow Tongue)

    I have confirmed they can recognize the faces of people - friends and foes alike: they WILL remember how you treat them.
    They are in all ways intelligent enough to communicate with each other.

    I have SEEN their morning meetings - where they get their assignments for the day - each division gathers at a certain place shortly after dawn … they talk (I kid you not … you watch these Dawn or Dusk meetings and you'll KNOW they are plotting something!!!) - and then each squad flies off to their territories for the day. At dusk they gather at the same spot and have a daily debriefing session - again … lots of crow talking.
    Go out shortly after dawn and listen for lots of crows squawking together … then sneak up and observe them.

    One of my teachers used to live in AZ … out in the desert. She told me that "Every Morning the Ravens would line up in her yard and the boss raven would march down the line inspecting them all. Then they would get their orders and fly off for the day.".

    And now that I've 'followed the Cawing' - and found several sites where they do their meetings - I can confirm her observations on their social structure.
    The only one I haven't confirmed yet is Crow Funerals. (Griefings) I hope I never see one of those. I prefer my Crows alive … and would probably cry over it.
    After you watch them have a few "Meetings" … you realize they ARE sharing knowledge. So, they must be communicating somehow.

    I made that "Game" up … and they figured the rules out right away - I never published those rules anywhere they could read them, either.

    OK you feathery geniuses … come closer. I have food for you. You LIKE food, don't you?

    Once I started hanging out with them … I started noticing more and more little things about them.
    As I fill in this page I can share one secret thing with you. I've learned a little more of their body (and 'spoken') language. You will likely be able to confirm it, if you watch them a while.

    Field Notes on "Crow Gold" …

    Crows found dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels to be as useful as money. They cache well - not tending to spoil quickly: they have a good shelf life in storage. They pack neatly into, and carry well in, the crop. They are small and round and easy to hide. They can be given to hungry friends. And - in the end - they can be eaten by you - and also have balanced nutrition!
    (Dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels are about 52.5% Fat / 22.5% Carbohydrate / & 25% Protein [with Calcium / Potassium / and Iron] - likely better nutrition than the usual S#|T they can scrounge up.)
    Trade Them / Hide Them / Spend Them / Eat Them - it acts as Crow Money - that they are eager to pick up (and peck up) into their crops!!!
    THEN they go deposit it into "Crow Banks" right away … to withdraw as needed.

    Field Notes on "Crow Banks" …

    Corvid Caching Techniques - Where is the Larder?

    When Crows or Ravens get more than they can eat at the moment: right away they think about stashing the excess food away for later. They will carry off a full load at a time and go hide it. They Plan for The Future!!!!

    Various Ground Coverings / Plants / And Human Made Structures make up the main categories of hiding places.
    Ground Coverings include Soft Dirt / Bark Mulch / Railway Track Ballast / Thick Grass
    Plants include Thick Grass / Under Bushes / Tea Tree / Pine Tree / Trimmed Palm Trees
    I know they hide food on Man-Made Structures - going up on a roof is a common move - but precisely WHERE up there: I do not know. They keep some secrets from me because I can't fly yet.

    Where they choose to hide food is mostly dependent upon their environment: they ALL took 2 years of Improv and are sure to locate ALL the resources in any area - food OR hiding places!
    The Crows I feed at the train station are partial to caching their surplus in Railway Track Ballast - since they have a LOT of that handy. Crows in other areas hardly ever cache in Ballast.
    At construction sites the piles of dirt are used … for a few minutes. Gotta be sure nobody (human or bird) sees them hiding food.
    In your garden - under bushes - between tufts of thick grass - and in the Bark Mulch at the verge of the bed are preferred spots.
    At the Beach the "Ring Necked Palm Tree" is a Favorite. Wherever it is found: the "Ring Necked Palm Tree" is usually the preferred caching location because of their immense storage capacity.
    The Preferred Storage, for the birds in any given area: will be whatever is most convenient - or close at hand.

    I've seen them hide in Dirt:

    They push their bill into soft dirt up to their faces and then disgorge several nuts into the cone shaped hole left behind - a scrape of dirt with the bill covers the treasure for later. They use a technique of vibrating / rapid shoving of their bodies, to excavate holes: Exactly the Same Principal as an "Impact Driver" uses driving in very heavy screws!!!! The beak repeatedly slams into the material, like an impact driver does, and for the same reason. (Caught on Video.)
    This is often the cache of last resort when they run out of other locations - or frequently used as temporary cache when they are in a hurry to remove a large amount of food. It IS the quickest method of hiding food - they can be heading back for another cropful of food in as little as 30 to 45 seconds! But Piles of construction dirt are moved by workers - with no warning to crows: so it is, at best, a temporary cache.

    As mentioned … Railroad Track beds have ballast rocks - these are full of tiny gaps between the stones that the birds find as porous as Swiss cheese.

    They are very clever hiding them … I usually cannot find the item I see them cache. Birds that have access to this resource use it regularly.

    Grass / Bark Mulch / Under Bushes (or weeds):

    Grass, especially deep thick grass, has space between the tufts: down at ground level. These birds know of these 'natural pockets' and can remember where they are.
    (Sometimes I have a sudden vision of a puzzled yard man wondering how peanut butter is getting in his fresh grass clippings - and on his lawnmower blades: and I laugh loudly in public for no apparent reason. Very embarrassing!)
    Bark chunks used as Mulch - ground cover - much like railway track ballast … this material is 'porous' - they are good at hiding in it: I usually cannot locate the treasure I just watched them pop from their crop - and hide. This material is popular as it is the second quickest to conceal a load in - and to return from to the food.
    Under Bushes - remember which bush and which side of it! Usually buried in the natural mulch that piles up under brush … so it is both under plants and buried under leaves.
    Abandoned Lots full of Weeds … yeah, pretty much the same as grass cover. Lots of hidey holes here. Also subject to sudden, unwarned, larder loss … by lawnmower man - making that property more useful to man … and less useful to bird.
    (Damn! Now Peanut Butter in my Weed Clippings!!! What's going ON Here?!?)

    Various classes of Trees:
    Pine Tree: The rough bark of Pine Trees presents many crevices to hide morsels in. I suspect Pine Trees don't have many good spots on them.
    Paperbark Tree (Tea Tree - Melaleuca linariifolia - imported into this region): The soft layers of bark readily hold whatever is inserted between them. Drawback: food cached thusly is easily visible to other animals.

    Ah … but the "Ring Necked Palm Tree" (Pictured Above) is a Crow Bank FULL of "Safe Deposit Boxes"!! When Humans trim these palms, and leave rings of frond stubs attached all of the way up the trunk … the frond stub's base makes a series of small pockets between adjacent frond stubs: and also between the frond stub and the trunk. Tree - #X (in a row of many) / Height of the Ring Level … on #X Tree - #Y (of frond stubs) / and which side of the #X#Y Ring Level - #Z: make a complicated 3D access array of #X#Y#Z spatial elements - there could be thousands of usable pockets located in a stand of trimmed palms. Crows remember which Tree / What Level / On Which Side they hid their dinner. Palms like these are valued!!! The Drawback? A starving Crow might scour ALL Ring Levels on ALL Palms - everyone knows about them: and they can't be locked. Like dirt piles: these are high capacity emergency storage locations - and also like dirt piles … you had best not leave it there very long - or it will likely not be there later. (So embarrassing to find some other crow's cache - in the location YOU had been using: and were planning to use again Just NOW. Now YOU have to find another location for what you're carrying: because this cache is compromised.) Later on, down the page a lot, I caught a Crow robbing another Crow's Food Cache on Video

    To Summarize: I've seen these clever beasts use every conceivable hiding place, as a larder, to hold 'food for later'. They plan for their future - construction workers and lawnmowers not considered … and they do all right for themselves. I'm amused when I see them fill a crop and then … straight to the palm tree - and I say "Gotta go make a deposit in the Crow Bank." … and laugh. I'm no different from them: I go shopping / bring home groceries / and put them in the pantry - it's just that I bring home a lot more … because I'm a larger animal, and I bring home multiple days worth of supplies! Lately I've been seeing Crows and Ravens as "People with Feathers." - and not as birds. Some few I see as FRIENDS …

    My raven friend lands right next to me and walks right up to me.
    I've fed her before - but I only know her by her behavior towards me.
    I love this raven more than I love Most People … I call her "The Way Showing Angel" or just "Angel" or "Angel Raven".

    I was feeding the Ravens on North Torrey Pines road one day … then they stopped coming (because they were all busy caching their treasure for later). As I was walking down the sidewalk away from the scene of the party: a huge raven sailed in, at knee level - right close to me: and landed on the sidewalk, directly in the center of it, about 10 yards in front of me! She cut me off!! Her Body language clearly said "Stop! Or Step upon Me!!".
    She was Bold Enough to place her body in my way!!! Of course: I froze in my tracks. I would never step on Her!!! I said aloud "I'm not getting past you without paying a toll, huh?".
    I generously spread several handfuls out at once. (This was the closest ANY Bird had tried to get!!! I dumped A LOT of FOOD!!!! SHE Hit The JACKPOT!!! Couldn't get a larger reward: because she couldn't have gotten closer.) Then I slowly shuffled past her, trying not to look at her: and alarm her. She walked the other way, around me, and went for her reward.
    About 5 minutes later she forced me to stop again. I figured she was just being smart enough to game the system - and cache away as many loads of nuts as I would give to her - but I respected her intestinal fortitude: for landing right in my path, almost under my feet. So, I left lots more … but I stopped a ways down the sidewalk and looked back.
    The Second time she Stopped me: I watched her from a distance. She stood guard over the food: as another Raven flew down from a nearby tree … and she made HIM take all of the nuts!!! She hadn't stopped me to get seconds for HERSELF - She stopped me because 'Her Brother' had been late to the Party: and Missed Breakfast!
    "I'll get you something to eat" … Raven Altruism!! She Stopped me - to get some food for a Different Raven!!! Wow!

    I knew then: she WAS Special. I called her "Way Showing Angel" from then on … shortened to just "Angel Raven" ('Angel') over the years. She has done this again, many times … stop me to feed another bird … and I don't mind her giving away my bird treats. They are Emotionally Smart - she risked injury: that I would not step on her - and she was correct. (She must have figured 'IF I was feeding them already … THEN I was friendly towards Ravens: THEREFORE - unlikely to injure her'.) They CAN Reason, I tell you. And she proved she could control my actions - she has my number. I don't mind her being the boss - that's how much I love her.

    I only know her by her mannerisms. I can't pick her out from the other Ravens - Like I can with my "Funny Girl", Mrs X. When a Raven flies in, close to me, "Below Shoulder Level" - and lands nearby in the grass, I know it is her. June of 2023 she landed directly in the center of my path again … like "Do you remember Me?". Well, SHE Remembered Me!!!

    Yeah, I gave her a LOT of food, again. Someday, I hope I get footage of her landing right in my way: to Stop Me.
    Beautiful, Bright, Brave, Brilliant, Bold, Beloved: Big Black Bird!! A "B9" Class Raven!!!! Top of the Line Avian Brain!!!
    That is Altruism … and Ravens and Crows ARE capable of this (Especially to family members.)!!!!

    I only know it's her - when she practically lands in my hair … but then: I AM very VERY glad to see her again. That 'sticking a landing right in my path' trick is her way of saying "Remember Me?" - and I always do.

    August 26th 2017 - The White Crow (Journal Entry):

    I Saw a WHITE CROW! 1st time ever! What's more I took 4 Photos of it (Between 7:11 ~ 7:15 AM) - one came out REALLY Nice!
    I noticed it trying to hang out with a flock of normal crows (in the pictures) but I thought they weren't being friendly to it.
    I wished Now I'd stayed a little longer and got more photos (and tried to feed it). But, Here they Are:

    Blurry Shot best seen in small scale:

    White Crow - Blurry

    On the Wall … eating something. I, of course, manage to catch it's unflattering side: perfectly.

    White Crow - Tail End

    Now in the Street - Vulcan Ave - marching away from me. So, what part did I photograph, again?

    White Crow - Also

    The Crow Turned Left - I snap one last quick photo of it: and jump aboard the bus, a second before it leaves!

    The White Crow!!
    Money Shot!!

    It was walking along the wall behind the sidewalk: across the street - first shot very blurry / second shot - not so blurry … of it's Ass pointing at me.
    Then it flew into the street: and started walking back towards it's murder of normal black crows. Third shot … of it's Ass again. The Last Shot came out … decent.
    I realize - in hindsight - that those black crows totally accepted the white guy as a member of their Murder.

    It was at the Bus Stop: I was just about ready to step aboard the bus - I had 1 minute before he left.
    My first thought was "That white pigeon better stop pestering those crows: or it will be pecked to death."
    I looked closer and saw it was not a Pigeon - I whipped out my camera and took 4 pictures: before the bus driver said "Are you coming or not?".

    I took the 101 Bus South, from the Encinitas NCTD Bus Terminal, then: and haven't seen it since. But it is still in my prayers: and I think of it often.
    A few hours later I won a $50 Raffle Prize: and I JUST Knew it Was my Lucky Day!!

    It has Been My Lucky Day ever since!!!

    April 12th 2023 - CERK (Close Encounter of the Raven Kind)

    I had been walking down the sidewalk … feeding my friends. I turned around and there was my X Winged friend "Mrs. X" croaking at me from the tree … no sooner had I dropped food for her and started backing off: then she came for them.

    Mrs. "X" Flew Down

    She practically landed at my feet - and she brought her mate with her also!!
    At 40 seconds in: HE does a "Snatch and Hop" at one of the Cashews - I have seen ravens do that before. If the food is in a pile, or group, a raven that has not had this food before is very VERY Wary of the pile!!
    I see them walking around the edge of the pile sizing it up - then they'll quickly snatch one from the edge of the group and Hop into the Air exactly as if they expect the remaining ones to gang up and jump them. Only after several times of being fed this food do they realize that Cashews don't fight back.

    But Ravens are rightly paranoid … so many creatures do not like having them around - they are surrounded by enemies. A pile of Cashews COULD Be a trap!! And I Am amused by the way they take one from the group and Get-Away-Quick before the others can respond!!!

    July 2nd 2023 - Cashews MIGHT Gang Up on You!!!

    Cashews MIGHT Gang Up on You!!!

    This Raven Clearly is Afraid of the PILE of Cashews - they outnumber him!! He dances around the dangerous pile nervously picking stragglers off.
    Then "Mrs. X" Lands and wades straight into the middle of the Cashew Slick Furiously gobbling the largest ones first. HE Gets a Lot Bolder - he has a bird to watch his back now - and starts scooping them up.
    As Soon as her Crop hits capacity limit she flies away to hide them for later. He doesn't like being left alone with them again: and he leaves shortly after.

    You notice the bulges in their throats: especially when they both look upwards? That's their Cashew Basket.

    July 2nd 2023 - I make sounds at Ravens

    Part 1:
    A Wary Raven takes Cashews from the edge of the Pile. Reaches out nervously to get them … and at 24 Seconds into the Video … he "Hops into the Air" to escape them!!

    Ravens are wary of new foods.

    See What I mean? He is not comfortable, with a whole Gang of them: glaring meanly at him!!

    Part 2:
    Ravens are fed behind a Transformer Box. (This Scene establishes that 2 Ravens left a pile of food behind them.)

    Come Over HERE, Bird!!

    Later On I 'took' 2 different Ravens from the corner around behind that transformer … On Foot. I'll post that footage next.

    What you are seeing here:
    Two ravens walk up as I make noises and point at something. They find out what the noises are about: and fall upon the cloud of food eagerly. They ARE Not Eating Them. They are packing them into their crops … to take away and bury somewhere … for later. Even though they don't expect dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels to put up a fight: you will still see a nervous "Hop Into the Air" once or twice here in this footage. It seems a Crow and Raven "Signature Move" … to me.

    Two Ravens go where I Am pointing / and pack their crops Full to Stretching / and Fly Away to Cache them for Later use. They Left Some behind … later on I'll lead two other ravens to this food on foot. You'll see that, eventually.

    July 2nd 2023 - Ravens make sounds at Me.

    Here is a Two Part Video … the Second Video starts right where the previous video Ended.

    Mrs X gathers up a few more cashews and flies to a 'rock garden' nearby. I thought she was going to hide them there.

    Taking Food away to Cache

    I've seen crows and ravens down at the railroad tracks, hiding their treats in the track ballast: in the cracks between the rocks.

    But No, she flew into the Street and walked up and made a big speech in Raven at me - and almost got hit by a car!!

    A Long speech in Raven

    July 2nd 2023 - Lead Raven to food - on foot.

    The Raven followed me a couple of yards: to the food pile behind the transformer!!

    Unfortunately - I was paying more attention to the Raven than to where my camera was pointing. So this is a mostly one sided conversation with an off camera Raven .... Mrs X again I think.

    Lead a Raven to Food on foot

    She Does Croak at me when she sees the pile of food. I saw the back edge of a cashew at the bottom of her mouth, peeking out of her crop, when she croaked right at me!! I wish the camera had been aimed just a LITTLE Higher at that moment!!! I was MUCH Amused by the sight of the food - just about to pop out of her storage bin … I think you can hear the laughter in my voice when I tell her she is FULL.

    July 2nd 2023 - Raven Liftoff - "Mrs X" - Slowed Down.

    The first Jump and Flap of Flight - when wings and tail deploy into fans … now you know how a 3 pound bird gets airborne.

    In that still, first, frame: you can See that her Wingtips Cross over her rump in an "X" Shape.
    She is the Only Raven Out there, that I can Visually Identify, by the way she folds her wings at rest.
    All of the Other Ravens have their Wings on Straight!
    I love her More because I can visually pick her out of a Murder of Ravens!
    She is one of Two Familiars I have NAMED - and the only one I can Tell "On Sight".
    This is my "Second Most Precious" Bird! I love my "Angel" Raven the Most … more than I love Most People!!!

    September 11th 2023 - Bird Party

    Once I got a couple of blocks onto the North End of UCSD Campus … the Crows started gathering when they saw my face.

    On the Ridgewalk I dumped out 2 slicks of dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels and walked away.

    This Happened:

    Bird Party

    I don't have to "Sing" to attract a large flock of mixed Ravens and Crows on that end of the Campus: they have lookouts posted that Caw like an Air Raid Siren when they see my face coming.

    The view is North up the Ridge Walk and I am at the Supercomputer Center/Triton Arena.

    I'd better never run out of peanuts: when I'm feeding a Double Murder of Hungry (Flying) Animals!

    Corvid Party - September 13th 2023 - UCSD West Campus (RIMAC Stadium).

    I had one of the Larger Corvid Parties I have thrown - I used up more than a third of a pound of dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels in one spot - more than a pound, overall.

    The Red Line is my fixed route.

    At Point (A) The Birds Started Gathering:

    The Birds Started Gathering

    The Tree center frame had a dozen birds in it: all watching me carefully. These birds had all been fed several times already by me: and would like more, it seems.

    (The Railing to my right is a part of the grey rectangle between (A) and (B) on the Map)

    Then I poured out food and retreated to film the Ensuing Chaos:

    Air Sharks feeding frenzy ...

    See the relative size of the 2 Ravens compared to the Crows? The 2 Ravens "Snatch and Hop" at some point … (unknown food is dangerous).

    The Gulls came: and spoiled the party … eventually.

    After I had emptied out the last of a one 1 Pound Bottle, in front of them: I was disheartened to see gulls eat it all.

    Uninvited Thieves Spoil my Party!

    I determined not to try to feed the crows anymore … as long as those white and grey 'flying trash cans' were going to follow me also … and walked as far as Point (B) … Where

    The Crows following me En Masse then told me what they thought about me trying to sneak off - without feeding them:

    Don't you dare try to leave without feeding us!!!

    "We Cawght You, Leprechaun: Fork 'Em Over!!!"
    (Clearly I'm a Leprechaun: If they catch me … I gotta give them a Pot of Crow Gold!!!)

    What a Racket!!! Thank Goddess I had another unopened 1 pound bottle in my backpack. Eventually: I put several ounces of that - in a large pile … not scattered out … and RAN Down Hopkins Drive while they were divvying them up.
    Close Escape!

    January 27th, 2024 - Corvid Language Notes:
    It was in late January of 2024 that I observed for the hundredth time - and recognized for the first time - a body language signal that crows and ravens use to request "Share Food", among their society. I was on the trolley going south and at one of the La Jolla stations a Crow saw me through the trolley windows and flew to the nearest section of fencing. It landed and Pecked Twice at the fence it stood on and - for emphasis - Feaked Twice to add Urgency to the request. And in that moment I realized I had seen - but never REALLY Noticed before - Literally Hundreds of times: the Crows I feed regularly LAND, and PECK TWICE At Once.
    ("Feak" is an antique medieval Falconry term which means the bird strops, or wipes its beak, on a nearby surface … usually the perch - sometimes it is seen with deferred aggression … but usually they are just wiping off their mouths. And in this one instance I took it to mean an additional "Because I'm starving.")

    And suddenly 💡 I UNDERSTOOD what I had been seeing, over and over - as my friends flew up, totally (and correctly) expecting to be fed - they Land and Ask me - in perfect Crow Language: "Please Share Food?"

    Oh My God!!! "Peck Peck" means "Please Share Food", with me: in Crow and Raven Body Language!!!!!! Suddenly: I Got It!!

    Since February I have NOTICED It again - Dozens of Times … and caught it on video a couple of times.
    Thinking back … I should have noticed this several times, before. Literally hundreds of times they would peck twice within 5 seconds of landing … I have clear memory of it.

    April 18th 2024 (Email): Learning the Language of Crows and Ravens - One sentence at a time

    I captured on video (at the extreme right hand edge of the frame) a Corvid … I think a Crow - not sure … landing in a tree nearby, to signal that it would like some food from me - and, a few seconds after it lands, PECKS The Branch Twice!! PECK PECK!!!

    I have seen this enough times that I'm making pecking motions of my head - like my nose were a beak - BACK at them: as I'm pouring out a goodly amount of food - for a hungry neighbor.

    By hanging out with them so much: I'm actually learning the Language of Crows and Ravens - One sentence at a time. I claim discovery of the Crow and Raven (and maybe OTHER Corvid species) body language signal that they give to each other (and human crows) … politely requesting to "Please Share Food."... because they signal this to me, on almost every encounter, lately!!! But it took me so long to recognize it: that I feel very stupid, in hindsight.

    "DUDE … I know you're packin' food … and I'm very hungry - would you please share it?"

    - well, I'm out there just to do THAT anyways, so: "My Pleasure."
    Bye!!! Watch this video … he's in the right side of the tree and, after he lands … strikes the branch he landed upon twice with his bill! I say "Peck Peck" as he does - 'cause I was watching for it. Now I've got a video of it.

    PECK PECK! Please Feed Me!

    See if you can spot the request the magnificent raven I call "Mrs X" makes of me:

    "Mrs. X" flies up and Requests Food.

    She sails right down to the tree over me … "Whatcha got for me?" … expecting to be fed. "Mrs X" knows I'm only out there to feed them - she feels Very Entitled to whatever I have.

    Also: watching "Mrs X" in this close up … maybe it isn't "Peck Peck" but instead "Wiping the very tip of the beak twice" which looks a lot like 'peck peck' from a distance … but you must be very very subtle in describing their body language signals.
    My learning is evolving. Black feathers sprouting on me is next.

    This all started many years ago when I made up a game to play with alien (avian) intelligences. "Proximity seeking behavior will be rewarded. The closer your proximity the greater your reward." That's it … that's the whole game rules in 14 words.
    Yeah, they figured this game out: and some will even land in my path. Alien Intelligence proved quite capable of quickly learning that I feed crows/ravens. They remember my face!!! They could pick me out of a crowd. After years of this game … I FINALLY noticed the "Peck Peck" move - since I AM associated with a good meal, in their brains: they politely ask me when they land.
    Now that I'm hep to them: I Am very prompt to drop dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels … the second I see this move.
    I only saw it hundreds of times before I NOTICED It … and then I suddenly realized what it meant. They were talking to me the whole time … and I suddenly learned to listen. I'm now signaling back to them that I'm aware of what the pecking is all about. The relationship evolves even more: now that I've bribed several murders of feathery buddies into being my friend.

    I expect one of these days soon I'm going to start sprouting black feathers … CAWS I'm learning how crows think. 💡 I think I'm reading them pretty well now.

    Fly into a tree and Peck Peck at Me.

    Someone flew up - close proximity achieved - we have a Winner!!! "Peck Peck?" Of Course: here is a day's worth of food for you.

    April 19th 2024 (Email):

    Today LOTS of birds came. One raven wanted Cashews: and all I was scattering was dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels … so he flew up into a nearby tree and waited until he saw cashews fall.

    Where are my Cashews?

    Then he flew down right away. Spoiled Bird. (I hate to disappoint them.)

    I captured two 'fights' between Ravens.

    The cause of the first raven fight: I have seen hummingbirds perform this act before. You land and gobble up food until you are full: and then you clear the feeder of every other bird the moment you are done!!!
    {How dare you scoundrels eat my food before my eyes?!?}

    I'm done … So YOU are Done!!

    He was on the ground with her … tolerating her - but the whole time he was giving her the Stink Eye … he was mad she was taking HIS peanuts. So, he gobbled until his crop was full and THEN he chased her off: "I'm done so YOU are done.". And then he flew off … just as the hummingbird had done - before him.

    Later, I saw another raven fight!!! One bird sailed out of the sky and knocked another one over. I told them not to fight: I had plenty for all.
    Very Dramatic!!! I think a "Knight" tried to snatch some food before the "King" had had his turn at the food - and was punished for it.
    "King" always goes first!!!:

    Raven Sails Down to RAM - WHAM!!!

    The King always goes first, understand? (But then they continued eating, together. Go Figure.)

    May 8th 2024 - UCSD West Campus (Northernmost block). Feeding Crows and Ravens again - when an old friend shows herself.
    Somebody just flew up and landed 6 yards away from me - then walked up to within a few yards of me as I dumped food and slowly backed away. HAD to have been HER.

    Angel flies in and Walks right Up

    Angel Raven's first appearance today.

    A Long block later - I note Two Ravens ahead of me {in ambush} on a street light post … the Second time I saw her today - and there was a second raven in the picture now:

    Why I called her Way Showing Angel

    He didn't know Cashews were food - they might be dangerous. But he followed her lead.
    I think he walked up and got one before she flew off: and he was right behind her - with just ONE.

    One more time - she brought them both back for "Seconds" to cache away for later use. And I got footage of Angel Raven cutting me off - LOW - and stopping me - and she brought another Raven with her. By now she knows she doesn't have to land directly in my way to force me to stop - just flying in Low, so I notice her crossing my path - is all it takes: for me to welcome her back - with a banquet of my finest food.
    This was the Third and Last time today (the second time she brought this bird with her):

    Angel cuts me off and Stops Me

    I do not mind her giving my food away, to other Ravens, one bit.
    When this huge black kite sails in at knee level, and sticks a landing near me: I KNOW it is HER … So Bold. But, she knows I will NOT harm her.

    May 21st 2024 - Suspected Ravens Nest - Master Suite at UCSD:
    Even since before the riot / campus occupation in mid May: I had noticed this 'artifact' and had wanted to document it. But I need to give you a couple of my 'background observations' about the prime location it is in.

    On UCSD North West Campus there is an Architectural Marvel that serves many useful purposes ... to humans and birds alike. It is named after famous philanthropist and children's author T. S. Geisel:

    All about the Geisel Library at UCSD Campus.

    We will be paying close attention to the outer ledges around the 4th Level of the Library. Notice that both the 5th and 6th Levels overhang the 4th level by a significant amount … the 5th level jutting out over the 4th level by yards - and the 6th level (The widest level right there in the middle) is overhanging the 5th level by a similar amount. This means that the ledges around the 4th level are protected from hail, or severe rain events, by a nice SOLID Ceiling sticking out for yards above you … practically bomb proof! And, no matter which direction the wind is coming from, there is still half of the 4th floor ledges that are downwind at any given moment! A raven could ride out a hurricane there: because of a solid sheltered overhang keeping you nice and dry … plus one side of the building always being both dry, and relatively sheltered from the wind.
    It has been my observations that only the largest raven - their leader - and a few of his staff - are allowed up there. I refer to him as the "King" Raven: and he can walk ALL the way around the library along the 4th floor ledge and survey his kingdom - and that huge black bird IS ruler of all he surveys!
    One time I was absolutely thrilled that the "King" heard my "Song" and flew right to me: from the West Side 4th Level Ledge - and I dumped a feast for him and his retinue right away. Oh, I have the greatest respect for him ... King of the Birds on the Campus!! (I'm not sure I could be more deferential towards an actual human monarch.)

    So, I've been eyeing this foot high pile of large twigs piled neatly in a corner - on the 4th story ledge - and thinking that … in spite of my never having seen any bird near it … that it could ONLY have been built by a Large Raven - and Only the "King" Raven is allowed up there! You would think that whole murders would gather, at such a centrally located and large site, for their daily meetings. At least you would think it is the IDEAL Bird Hangout. No: I'm positive it is reserved territory - for the "King" and his Court only. And now a massive haystack has migrated up to a secure spot on a safe ledge … somehow: it seems suspicious to me. (It SEEMS like a Raven's Storm Proof Penthouse Pad. I'd say the site selection shows considerable intelligence and forethought - If I were them: I couldn't think of a finer location to nest. A person admitting that the raven made the best choice possible - and observing that the raven has reasoned that choice out for itself: Very Impressive Alien Intelligence!!)

    The Only Raven's Nest I have ever seen.

    My camera is fixed (infinite) focus - and resolution - so I couldn't get closer than this. But the Obvious, and Sheltered, Location is almost flaunting his rule over the other birds - it's certain HE'S The Boss! Only ONE Raven may live in the Penthouse!!

    May 24th - 26th 2024 - UCSD Ravens Nest - Cloudy Day:

    There is Something on The Library Building

    I got 4 more photos of that 'thing' on the side of the Geisel Library - 2 shots from 2 different angles.

    Where the Nest is on the Building.

    This is like a medium range shot.

    Here is a different angle:

    The 4th Level of the Building.

    This is more of a side view.

    It was a cloudy day so this won't be my best shot:

    A haystack piled carefully up.

    Now, how do you suppose this climbed up on that ledge?

    Do you see why I might be suspicious that this artifact might be a Raven's Nest?

    Could this be a Raven's Nest?

    I'll try to get better pictures on a Sunny Day.

    I got lucky that the bird built it where I could notice it. Well, that IS a Bomb Proof / Storm Proof location - safest place they COULD have Built.
    A tree top nest is a white knuckle carnival ride in a bad storm - they nested on a cliff which is rock stable: and hell can't blow them out of there!!! Smartest Birds!!!!

    A different day - a different angle

    June 6th 2024 - Crow Language Lesson - "Anger" / "Hate":

    If you hear a crow making this cry (distress-buzzing):

    It is as Angry as it can Get!!!

    He's going to GET that Devil!!!

    These Two Crows were Diving … Over and Over again: on the "Devil" Raven* - and I could hear & see how much Hatred and Anger they were Feeling!!! *(More on the "Devil" Raven later)
    The other sounds in this clip are a slight hiss from me and 4 'barks' by a seagull - with a background of Freeway Traffic.
    You can hear a slight change in timbre as the crow pulls out of the steep dive and starts zooming upwards again - while the gull is barking.
    Then I note that the just off camera crow is having a raven sized tantrum.
    The raven cries in protest - and hops into the air: to fend off a swooping, anger-buzzing, very angry crow!!

    See for Yourself:

    Angry Crow stooping on an Enemy Raven!

    * I have my theory why those two crows are ALWAYS chasing him … every day. I call him "The Devil Raven" and I swear he looks like he regrets what he did - only because he is being so badly punished!!!
    I have a LOT of Footage of HIM: he always comes when he hears me calling for him. I'm one of the few ways he gets fed in peace: the crows chasing him mop up whatever food he didn't get so THEY can continue the Battle, Later. The crows know they'll get fed, also: so they permit him to collect food from me.
    They call a truce long enough to collect, and cache, food: then it's back to swooping down, and dropping hate bombs, on him. I'm planning a long write up about him - with more footage of him being attacked - and my guess on why they won't let up on him: in a while. I need to start gathering together ALL of the footage of him I already have: for inclusion in the whole story I'll spin of him - eventually.
    I've heard fledgling crows making a similar sound while begging to be fed. I call that "Squacking" - I believe the bird's Syrinx is not large enough for it to utter a full blown "Caw!" yet.

    June 9th, 2024 - yeah: the sky ninja have tracked me back to my lair … oh dear

    I suppose this had to happen, sooner rather than later. Smart observers all - two crows have learned where I live (or at least which skyscraper I vanish into): and wait in ambush, early in the morning, down at the South end of the block … where I ALWAYS approach from - about the time I would be returning home from my regular walk.
    Four days in a row now I've been delighted to see them waiting for me, and to dump out the usual food for them. They got a good thing going now. I know today they collected a Whole Day's worth of large tasty beans - they can snack all day on a balanced food. (remember: dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels are about 52.5% Fat / 22.5% Carbohydrate / 25% Protein [with Calcium / Potassium / and Iron] - they can do a lot worse.)

    I do not believe they are a part of a murder of crows: so they are not obligated to tell any other crows about my odd and friendly behavior. They don't "Caw!" to alert the other crows to the presence of food - like crows in a family DO.
    They will keep me to themselves: lest other bigger more mature crows take the food I give, away from them. Good. I don't want the skies to darken - with a cloud of crows and ravens descending - every time I go outside. Two is enough.
    If I'm coming up 3rd Av between - oh, say 7 AM and 8 AM - I expect they will be there waiting for me - and now I'm actively looking for them! Today I wasn't disappointed - they got a good meal, and perhaps a whole days worth of food, just for 15 or 20 minutes worth of work - hiding free food.

    Crows of Leisure now - every morning their rich uncle mortimer gives them a big haul of Crow Gold to deposit: and they hardly ever have to WORK for Food any more!!! Just look for the kindly old man who feeds birds … like some Leprechaun carrying a Pot of Crow Gold!!!!
    June 13th - and I have not seen them since I posted that 4 days ago. Ha-Ha!!

    June 14th, 2024 - The Gang's All Here!!!

    Friday Morning I got good enough weather to go see my friends in La Jolla. I walk through Del Mar before I catch the bus to La Jolla. Usually I have two or three crow encounters just after dawn in Del Mar. Today I only had 1 crow encounter in Del Mar - the crow that Usually flies over my head to get my attention was not there at the usual place.
    Instead … just past the point where that crow would usually catch up to me - I heard that crow behind me: cawing that it was late!!

    The Del Mar Crow calls me back.

    "Well, come on, Bird!!!" (Breakfast is Served) When I looked back: that crow had come down and taken away a load of food to hide. Late - but got fed.

    But in La Jolla I attracted most of my usual "Friends" - and several of them either landed next to me - or walked up to me and stood in my way.

    The first two birds (the early birds) to come was a pair of crows - one slightly larger than the other. I witnessed (and you will also) a crow theft - the larger crow took the treasure the smaller crow had just put aside for later.
    What happened: I sprinkled dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels and there was a cashew in the bottle that fell out with the peanuts. The two crows flew in and they both landed at the food - the larger crow then flew to the right and disappeared. The little crow found the large cashew and selected it first. ("Make sure you get some! Oh my goodness - that's the good stuff. Haven't you had a Cashew before? Grab 2 in your crop and 1 in your bill and RUN Away with it!") Then it walked a yard to a nearby tree root poking out of the ground and shoved the cashew under it. ("Shove shove shove shove shove!" [Crow imitates Impact Driver] {'I Hope the Camera got that! HO-Ho-ho!'}) And as the crow turned back towards the larger pile of peanuts and started walking towards them - the larger crow appears from the right, walking right behind him - walks right up to the tree root: and steals the cashew it saw being hidden a moment before!!!! ("Yeah, that's where he hid it - right there. Did you just … You know what? That Other bird just stole the Cashew you hid there!!!" … ∞@#&$%˚!!! - LOL!!!) Then the little crow turns around and sees the cashew in the other crows bill. "Hey, that's Mine!!!" and he runs a few steps towards it - too late. ("He stole your food, bird: I saw it!!")

    Crow Cache Theft - caught on Camera.

    You can see common corvid caching behavior (How they vibrate and pulse their bodies - just like an impact driver does - when excavating a bill sized crater) - and then a demonstration why some crows are suspicious of other crows - some are thieves!!! (I feel very sorry for the robbed crow.)

    Next Up … Ravens!! About a half a mile further on - scene of previous Raven Parties - my bigger friends came along to have breakfast! On June 17th - 3 days after this entry - I reviewed my footage and Identified a couple of those Ravens. Angel Raven is Missing a Tail Feather on this day (Probably Molted it) / And Mrs X has her Wings on Special, as Usual - and both of them will land at my feet. I used these traits to rename unknown birds to friends, and updated my texts to reflect this.

    Mrs X flew in with THREE Other Ravens (I'm thinking her kin) - at one point I have several ravens croaking at one time! (These next 4 Videos are sequential - each starts where the previous one stops.)

    Mrs X arrives with her friends

    Mrs X and Friends Eat.

    Next, I noticed that a Raven had snuck up on me, to just 2 yards away from me: into the tree next to me. When I quietly put down food for it: it promptly flew away! LOL!!!

    Off Camera Raven snuck up on me!! And Spurned Food!!

    Then a crow caught my attention - audibly and visually: it 'peck-pecked' at me, from up in the tree … and was fed.

    Crow says Hello - gets rewarded.

    A Large Raven landed 2 or 3 yards away from me - with another Raven close behind her. Obviously, The Angel Raven brought a Friend with her again (Maybe two friends)! It took me 3 seconds to register that it HAD TO Be Her - even the raven that followed her down thought that she landed a bit too close to me - and he started hopping away from me: down the bike lane. (What are you doing?!? that's a GIANT you landed on!)

    Angel Raven lands right at my feet again.

    That first raven that landed with her certainly was hungry - he gobbled up about a half dozen large cashews in a hurry and flew across the road to eat - That Sweet 'Way Showing Angel Raven' rounds up a Hungry Bird, to come with her to Visit with me, Every Time now!
    I Love this Beautiful Bird - she has a Magnificent Soul!!!

    Several Ravens came back to see if anything was left.

    Is there any thing Left?

    They were glad to do Clean Up duty.

    A nice lady going up the sidewalk, and I, spoke briefly - she feeds Orioles (I used to - and miss it). After that I turned around - and Angel Raven was lurking in wait for me. When she saw I wasn't interacting with the lady anymore: she knew she had me all to herself again, and she flew down to the sidewalk next to me. After I spilled food the Raven she brought with her took that as his cue to appear.

    Angel Raven Flies Down to Halt me.

    I noticed that my familiar birds come right up to exactly two sidewalk sections (8 feet?) away from me - that is their comfort zone: just out of reach.
    (Hey: I think I might not get within a half block of somebody 5 times my size … so these animals show exceptional bravery around a wild and unpredictable giant.)

    After I fed Angel and her friend, there: I started down the sidewalk again - and was quickly intercepted again. This Time "Mrs X" brought another bird back for Seconds, herself!! Look at the way her wings are folded - and she's doing that "March up to me and make a speech." thing again. I love her "X-Wing"* Look!!! (* Pronounced either "Ecks Wing" or "Cross Wing" - ✕ being a type of )

    Mrs X comes after me again - and Brings a Friend to Lunch.

    Someone walked right through at about a minute in … just before that Mrs X and her Friend walked Right Up To Me: and Mrs. X Croaked Loud and Long at me!!!!
    I noticed it was almost exactly the SAME Speech that She made to me on July 2nd 2023 - see "A Long Speech in Raven." above. (I suspect it is a call to other birds to 'Come and Eat' - beCaws she has me pinned down.)

    They really can't get any closer: without stepping on me!!! I'm not 100% certain I'd want one of my dear friends to perch upon my shoulder or stand on my arm, either - much as I dearly love them: I feel wildlife shouldn't be worn as ornaments.

    I was running out of bird food so I decided to escape by bus. I illegally ran across the street to the 985 bus stop bench. While waiting for the bus to come along and rescue me - I fed three or four more birds:
    Peanuts might be dangerous in a gang … better take no chances:

    Don't let those Peanuts gang up on you.

    I had time to count how many dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels a Raven can pack away - that number is no longer an Estimate.

    Count the Peanuts stored in the crop - along with me:

    And when I got home: those two local crows got a nice handout from me again. (no video) All-in-all I had a nice day sharing food with my special friends!
    I love you birds!!!!

    July 2nd, 2024 - All of the Birds are missing!

    I walked the entire length of N. Torrey Pines Rd - down from John J. Hopkins Drive to Genesee - and for 15 minutes I did not hear or see any crows or ravens. Down past the place in most of my previous videos where I have fed them. I entered the Campus At N. Torrey Pines and Genesee. For still another block on Campus - Where ARE the Crows and Ravens?!?

    Finally I heard a crow "Caw!" somewhere in the distance, ahead of me. I sang my Summoning Song again. And THERE They Are - they were just all in one location today - At Least Two, and Maybe Three, Murders of Crows swiftly gathered in front of me. I poured out half a bottle of mostly peanuts - with a couple of Cashews mixed in - In a long strip. Listen to all the racket they are making!!

    I held a Nice Crow Party!

    The Gulls crashed the party: and I can be heard saying bad things about them. I noticed that there was a Mockingbird that was diving on a Crow - to make it Go Away - It swooped 3 times!!

    After the Gulls swiped half of their food - the Crows were pestering me to replace what was stolen from them.

    We ditched the &@#$ Gulls and the feast continued …

    A student came up the walk - they flew off for a moment - I edited her out of the Movie - they landed on the walkway right behind her as soon as she was past them. Don't take no chances around Giants - we are unpredictable at best (except me, maybe - they will deign to eat the filthy offerings that I toss on the ground.).

    Eventually the crows stopped coming after me - they'd ALL had what they wanted.

    Everyone has had enough food, for Now.

    Birds can be seen caching food in the 'bark mulch' - One bird covered quite a few yards on foot by hopping down the walkway away from me.

    Last Update was on July 9th at 1700 PDT

    More Pending ....

    Cashews are $5 a pound - in bulk - folks! I reserve them for Ravens in a certain Area of La Jolla … The Ravens I REALLY Love - enough to feed gold bars to!!! And some of those birds are spoiled now: and do not want peanut kernels anymore. Common Crows get dry roasted unsalted peanut kernels: and are quite happy to get them - but won't hesitate to steal a cashew from a raven.

    Relative capacities to full crop: Crow - 12 peanuts or 3 cashews (One in bill) [estimate] / Raven - 40 peanuts [actual video count] or 12 cashews (one in bill) [estimate]

    This page was Hatched at 5:11 AM PDT - May 9th, 2024

    This Page is dedicated to the Memory of Jennifer McElmeel - my bird loving Friend.

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