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The Wake of Crows – Thom van Dooren
"The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds, Columbia University Press: New York, 2019

The blurb:

Crows can be found almost everywhere that people are, from tropical islands to deserts and arctic forests, from densely populated cities to suburbs and farms. Across these diverse landscapes, many species of crows are doing very well today: their intelligent and adaptive ways of life have allowed them to thrive amid human-driven transformations. Indeed, crows are frequently disliked for their success, seen as pests, threats, and scavengers on the detritus of human life. But among the vast variety of crows, there are also critically endangered species that are barely hanging on to existence, some of them subjects of passionate conservation efforts.

The Wake of Crows is an exploration of the entangled lives of humans and crows. Focusing on five key sites, Thom van Dooren asks how we might live well with crows in a changing world. He explores contemporary possibilities for shared life emerging in the context of ongoing processes of globalization, colonization, urbanization, and climate change. Moving between these diverse contexts, this book tells stories of extermination and extinction, alongside fragile efforts to better understand and make room for one another. Grounded in the careful work of paying attention to some very particular crows and their people, The Wake of Crows is an effort to imagine and put into practice a multispecies ethics. In so doing, van Dooren explores some of the possibilities that still exist for living and dying well on this damaged planet.

Endorsements:

“A necessary and beautiful book, The Wake of Crows models the work of living responsibly inside both the humanities and the sciences in order to nurture still possible worlds. This book shows us what collaborative efforts to enact multispecies communities mean, and might yet mean, in the context of ongoing processes of extinction and extermination. Moving through diverse sites of human/crow encounter, it offers insights into the fragile, situated, ongoing, work necessary to cultivating ecologies of hope in troubled times.”
~ Donna Haraway, author of Staying with the Trouble, and When Species Meet

“The Wake of Crows is a thoughtful and captivating book that opens our imagination. In this book van Dooren shows us that accepting the challenge to coexist with crows without dreaming that they will come to behave as a loyal and grateful companion species, might teach us priceless lessons at a time when we need to learn how to make room for many different, sometimes inconvenient, but so very interesting, others.”
~ Isabelle Stengers, author of In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism

“Writing from a personal and scholarly perspective, Thom van Dooren takes us on a deep dive into the human-crow relationship that both informs natural history and lays bare the importance of expanding our own ethics to value all of life and our wonderful connections to it.”
~ John M. Marzluff, Professor of Wildlife Science, University of Washington and author of Gifts of the Crow and Welcome to Subirdia."
thomvandooren  crows  animals  birds  corvids  books  intelligence  donnaharaway  isabellestrengers  johnmarzluff  globalization  urban  urbanism  urbanization  climatechange  colonization  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  multispecies  morethanhuman 
16 days ago by robertogreco
Corvid Research | School of Environmental and Forest Resources
"I’m Kaeli Swift, a PhD candidate at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington. I have been passionate about animal behavior all my life, but what started as an early love affair with wolves has turned into a fierce ardor for corvids. Specifically, my area of research is the thanatology of crows.

Crows, like a number of other animals that includes non-human primates, elephants, dolphins and other corvids, appear to respond strongly once they discover a dead member of their own species. Among these animals the responses can include: tactile investigation, communal gathering, vocalizing, sexual behaviors, or aggression. For people who live or work closely with animals it’s tempting to anthropomorphize these behaviors based on our opinions of how smart or emotional the animals we care about are. But as a scientist my job is to separate my personal feelings about animals, and use research techniques that allow me to objectively ask questions about animal behavior. By conducting field experiments and employing brain scanning techniques developed by our team, I hope to gain insight into the purpose of crow funerals. Perhaps they play a utilitarian purpose of learning about danger or social opportunities, or perhaps they are akin to the grieving process we experience as humans. The brain scanning technique we use allows us to peer into the brain of a living, thinking crow, without ever having to euthanize the animal.

Studies that provide bridges from humans to other animals are critical to fostering a culture that respects and protects the natural world, and this is one of the reasons I most enjoy working with crows. No matter their feelings for them, nearly everyone has a story about crows, even those people who otherwise feel quite separated from nature. The fact that they are conspicuous and thrive in all kinds of human dominated environments, means that crows are a uniquely accessible animal, and offer a wealth of opportunities to connect people of all interests and backgrounds to science. It’s my hope that our research will provide a more compassionate lens with which to understand crows, and contribute to a growing movement of corvid enthusiasts. Feel free to ask questions or share your own stories in the comment section!"

[See also:
https://twitter.com/corvidresearch/

Via: https://twitter.com/corvidresearch/status/1018901912106647552
via: https://twitter.com/ekstasis/status/1019064131754872832 ]
corvids  crows  animals  multispecies  kaeliswift  birds 
july 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 57. John Crowley & John Michael Greer in “The Slow Decline” // Talking Crows, Pocket Utopias & the Future of Storytelling
"John Michael Greer joins the show to chat with author John Crowley about his latest novel, “Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr”, as well as Frances Yates, creative writing, pocket utopias, the future of storytelling and the slow decline of industrial society."
johnmichaelgreer  ryanpeverly  johncrowley  occulture  decline  2017  crows  corvids  literature  fiction  occult  storytelling  birds  animals  stories  myth  mythology  utopia  pocketutopias  animism 
february 2018 by robertogreco
A new tool-using bird to crow about
"The Hawaiian crow has been revealed as a skilled tool user, confirmed by testing the last members of this endangered species that survive in captivity. The finding suggests its behavior is tantalizingly similar to that of the famous tool-using New Caledonian crow and has implications for the evolution of tool use and intelligence in birds."
crows  corvids  tools  intelligence  2017  hawaiiancrows  newcaledoniancrows  animals  birds  behavior  morethanhuman  extinction  multispecies 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Spy Birds
"Of the many military projects conducted by ABE, those involving birds were among the most intriguing.

Birds were used to save lives, as shown in the Rescue Birds page, but they were also used for reconnaissance and espionage. ABE used pigeons, ravens, and crows for this work. For example, birds were taught to deliver or pick up packages from windowsills or similar locations. They were directed to the appropriate location with a laser pointer. ABE was among the first company to use large laser pointers as they became available. Today, a key feature of Robert Bailey�s workshops is teaching chickens to follow a target in the form of a red-dot delivered by a laser-pointer.

Other projects involved teaching ravens standing on exterior building ledges to take pictures of the interior rooms of the building. The raven would carry in its mouth a small camera that was triggered whenever the camera was pushed against the window pane. The exact location of this window was also indicated to the bird with a laser pointer.

In another body of work, pigeons were trained to detect ambushes and snipers hiding along well-traveled roads. This work was conducted during the Vietnam era. The bird was launched from a transport vehicle and flew ahead on the road. Attached to the bird was a device that continued to send a radio signal back to the vehicle as long as the bird was flying. If the bird detected a sniper on the side of the road, the bird would alight nearby. This would turn off the radio signal traveling back to the transport vehicle and indicate to the person monitoring the radio signal that the bird had stopped flying and probably had detected a person hiding on the side of the road. These demonstrations were remarkable in that they indicated that these birds could accurately discriminate persons from the surrounding environment even when these persons were well-hidden in the underbrush. Further, these birds could discriminate persons lying in wait from ordinary citizens walking along the road, which might be the situation in an environment like Vietnam."
cia  birds  ravens  animals  morethanhuman  multispecies  pigeons  corvids  foreden 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The CIA’s Most Highly-Trained Spies Weren’t Even Human | History | Smithsonian
"As a former trainer reveals, the U.S. government deployed nonhuman operatives—ravens, pigeons, even cats—to spy on cold war adversaries"
morethanhuman  multispecies  cats  pigeons  ravens  corvids  birds  animals  cia  2013  foreden 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Ursula K. Le Guin: New poetry, November 2006
"Crows

Crows are the color of anarchy
and close up they’re a little scary.
An eye as bright as anything.
Having a pet crow would be
like having Voltaire on a string."

[more poems follow]
ursulaleguin  crows  2006  poems  poetry  corvids  via:tealtan 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Human cumulative culture: a comparative perspective [.pdf]
"Lewis G. Dean, Gill L. Vale, Kevin N. Laland, Emma Flynn and Rachel L. Kendal"

"Many animals exhibit social learning and behavioural traditions, but human culture exhibits unparalleled complexity and diversity, and is unambiguously cumulative in character. These similarities and differences have spawned a debate over whether animal traditions and human culture are reliant on homologous or analogous psychological processes. Human cumulative culture combines high-fidelity transmission of cultural knowledge with beneficial modifications to generate a ‘ratcheting’ in technological complexity, leading to the development of traits far more complex than one individual could invent alone. Claims have been made for cumulative culture in several species of animals, including chimpanzees, orangutans and New Caledonian crows, but these remain contentious. Whilst initial work on the topic of cumulative culture was largely theoretical, employing mathematical methods developed by population biologists, in recent years researchers from a wide range of disciplines, including psychology, biology, economics, biological anthropology, linguistics and archaeology, have turned their attention to the experimental investigation of cumulative culture. We review this literature, highlighting advances made in understanding the underlying processes of cumulative culture and emphasising areas of agreement and disagreement amongst investigators in separate fields."
lewisden  gillvale  kevinlaland  emmaflynn  rachelkendal  2013  culture  animals  human  humans  anthropology  biology  crows  corvids  multispecies  psychology  economics  cumulativeculture  apes  chimpanzees  orangutans  linguistics  archaeology  morethanhuman 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Emery, N.: Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"Birds have not been known for their high IQs, which is why a person of questionable intelligence is sometimes called a "birdbrain." Yet in the past two decades, the study of avian intelligence has witnessed dramatic advances. From a time when birds were seen as simple instinct machines responding only to stimuli in their external worlds, we now know that some birds have complex internal worlds as well. This beautifully illustrated book provides an engaging exploration of the avian mind, revealing how science is exploding one of the most widespread myths about our feathered friends—and changing the way we think about intelligence in other animals as well.

Bird Brain looks at the structures and functions of the avian brain, and describes the extraordinary behaviors that different types of avian intelligence give rise to. It offers insights into crows, jays, magpies, and other corvids—the “masterminds” of the avian world—as well as parrots and some less-studied species from around the world. This lively and accessible book shows how birds have sophisticated brains with abilities previously thought to be uniquely human, such as mental time travel, self-recognition, empathy, problem solving, imagination, and insight.

Written by a leading expert and featuring a foreword by Frans de Waal, renowned for his work on animal intelligence, Bird Brain shines critical new light on the mental lives of birds.

Nathan Emery is senior lecturer in cognitive biology at Queen Mary University of London. His research interests focus on what corvids, apes, and parrots understand about their social and physical worlds, especially others' mental states, insight, and imagination, as well as the psychology and evolution of innovation and creativity. He is currently working with the ravens at the Tower of London. He is the coeditor of Social Intelligence: From Brain to Culture and The Cognitive Neuroscience of Social Behaviour, and is on the editorial board of the journals Animal Cognition and Journal of Comparative Psychology. He is the author of more than eighty publications, including papers in Nature, Science, and Current Biology. His work has been extensively covered by international newspapers and magazines, in books, and on TV."
multispecies  birds  intelligence  animals  corvids  via:eden  nthanemery  parrots  empathy  tools  self-recognition  imagination  fransdewaal  problemsolving 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Raven Brings Light to this House of Stories — UW Libraries
"A Native American, Pacific Northwest Coast story tells how once it was so dark here that the People sent Raven and Mink to bring back light. Artworks by Mare Blocker, Carl Chew, Ron Hilbert Coy, and J.T. Stewart located throughout the Kenneth S. Allen Library are parts of a contemporary retelling of this story. In this retelling, light symbolizes the Library's collected knowledge.

Raven Brings Light to this House of Stories is a project of the Washington State Arts Commission, Art in Public Places Program in partnership with the University of Washington. The title of the work can be found written along the southeast wall in the Ground Floor Lobby, Allen North. It is in Lushootseed and English. Lushootseed speaking people are the Native Americans ancestral to where Seattle is today.



The installation includes:

• Ravens and Crows
By the artist team. In the Lobby and throughout the Library.

• Table of Knowledge
A cedar table by Ron Hilbert Coy celebrating the passage of knowledge from one generation to the next. In the Lobby.

• Presentations from the International Symposium of Light
A book by the artists, printed and bound by Mare Blocker. In the Lobby on the Table of Knowledge.

• Broadsides
Poems by J.T. Stewart, printed by Mare Blocker. In the Lobby, and 2nd Floor Bridge between Allen North and South Wings.

• Study Desks
Two Cawpets by Carl Chew. Balcony 1st Floor Allen North, and 3rd Floor Allen South.

• Things the Crows Left
Special Collections.

Mare Blocker is an artist book maker and publisher from Jerome, Arizona.
Rug designer and manufacturer Carl Chew, artist, carver, and story teller Ron Hilbert Coy, and literary artist and instructor J.T. Stewart reside in Seattle."
universityofwashington  seattle  washingtonstate  ravens  rt  corvids  mareblocker  art  installations  carlchew  ronhilbertcoy  jtstewart  knowledge  libraries 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Anting (bird activity) - Wikipedia
"Anting is a self-anointing behavior during which birds rub insects, usually ants, on their feathers and skin. The bird may pick up the insects in their bill and rub them on the body (active anting), or the bird may lie in an area of high density of the insects and perform dust bathing-like movements (passive anting). The insects secrete liquids containing chemicals such as formic acid, which can act as an insecticide, miticide, fungicide, or bactericide. Alternatively, anting could make the insects edible by removing the distasteful acid, or, possibly supplement the bird's own preen oil. Instead of ants, birds can also use millipedes. More than 200 species of bird are known to ant.[1] In addition, other animals such as squirrels and pangolins may exhibit anting-type behavior.[citation needed] Stoats are known to roll around in moss in a similar way."

[More here: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/mystery-bird-anting ]
birds  behavior  ants  anting  nature  multispecies  corvids  animals 
january 2018 by robertogreco
10 Fascinating Facts About Ravens | Mental Floss
"Edgar Allan Poe knew what he was doing when he used the raven instead of some other bird to croak out “nevermore” in his famous poem. The raven has long been associated with death and dark omens, but the real bird is somewhat of a mystery. Unlike its smaller cousin the crow, not a lot has been written about this remarkable bird. Here are 10 fascinating facts about ravens.

1. Ravens are one of the smartest animals.
When it comes to intelligence, these birds rate up there with chimpanzees and dolphins. In one logic test, the raven had to get a hanging piece of food by pulling up a bit of the string, anchoring it with its claw, and repeating until the food was in reach. Many ravens got the food on the first try, some within 30 seconds. In the wild, ravens have pushed rocks on people to keep them from climbing to their nests, stolen fish by pulling a fishermen’s line out of ice holes, and played dead beside a beaver carcass to scare other ravens away from a delicious feast.

If a raven knows another raven is watching it hide its food, it will pretend to put the food in one place while really hiding it in another. Since the other ravens are smart too, this only works sometimes.

2. Ravens can imitate human speech.
In captivity, ravens can learn to talk better than some parrots. They also mimic other noises, like car engines, toilets flushing, and animal and birdcalls. Ravens have been known to imitate wolves or foxes to attract them to carcasses that the raven isn’t capable of breaking open. When the wolf is done eating, the raven gets the leftovers.

3. Europeans often saw ravens as evil in disguise.
Many European cultures took one look at this large black bird with an intense gaze and thought it was evil in the flesh … er, feather. In France, people believed ravens were the souls of wicked priests, while crows were wicked nuns. In Germany, ravens were the incarnation of damned souls or sometimes Satan himself. In Sweden, ravens that croaked at night were thought to be the souls of murdered people who didn’t have proper Christian burials. And in Denmark, people believed that night ravens were exorcized spirits, and you’d better not look up at them in case there was a hole in the bird’s wing, because you might look through the hole and turn into a raven yourself.

4. Ravens have been featured in many myths.
Cultures from Tibet to Greece have seen the raven as a messenger for the gods. Celtic goddesses of warfare often took the form of ravens during battles. The Viking god, Odin, had two ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), which flew around the world every day and reported back to Odin every night about what they saw. The Chinese said ravens caused bad weather in the forests to warn people that the gods were going to pass by. And some Native American tribes worshipped the raven as a deity in and of itself. Called simply Raven, he is described as a sly trickster who is involved in the creation of the world.

5. Ravens are extremely playful.
The Native Americans weren’t far off about the raven’s mischievous nature. They have been observed in Alaska and Canada using snow-covered roofs as slides. In Maine, they have been seen rolling down snowy hills. They often play keep-away with other animals like wolves, otters, and dogs. Ravens even make toys—a rare animal behavior—by using sticks, pinecones, golf balls, or rocks to play with each other or by themselves. And sometimes they just taunt or mock other creatures because it’s funny.

6. Ravens do weird things with ants.
They lie in anthills and roll around so the ants swarm on them, or they chew the ants up and rub their guts on their feathers. The scientific name for this is called “anting.” Songbirds, crows, and jays do it too. The behavior is not well understood; theories range from the ants acting as an insecticide and fungicide for the bird to ant secretion soothing a molting bird’s skin to the whole performance being a mild addiction. One thing seems clear, though: anting feels great if you’re a bird.

7. Ravens use “hand” gestures.
It turns out that ravens make “very sophisticated nonvocal signals,” according to researchers. In other words, they gesture to communicate. A study in Austria found that ravens point with their beaks to indicate an object to another bird, just as we do with our fingers. They also hold up an object to get another bird’s attention. This is the first time researchers have observed naturally occurring gestures in any animal other than primates.

8. Ravens are adaptable.
Evolutionarily speaking, the deck is stacked in the raven’s favor. They can live in a variety of habitats, from snow to desert to mountains to forests. They are scavengers with a huge diet that includes fish, meat, seeds, fruit, carrion, and garbage. They are not above tricking animals out of their food—one raven will distract the other animal, for example, and the other will steal its food. They have few predators and live a long time: 17 years in the wild and up to 40 years in captivity.

9. Ravens show empathy for each other.
Despite their mischievous nature, ravens seem capable of feeling empathy. When a raven’s friend loses in a fight, they will seem to console the losing bird. They also remember birds they like and will respond in a friendly way to certain birds for at least three years after seeing them. (They also respond negatively to enemies and suspiciously to strange ravens.) Although a flock of ravens is called an “unkindness,” the birds appear to be anything but.

10. Ravens roam around in teenage gangs.
Ravens mate for life and live in pairs in a fixed territory. When their children reach adolescence, they leave home and join gangs, like every human mother’s worst nightmare. These flocks of young birds live and eat together until they mate and pair off. Interestingly, living among teenagers seems to be stressful for the raven. Scientists have found higher levels of stress hormones in teenage raven droppings than in the droppings of mated adults. It’s never easy being a teenage rebel."
ravens  corvids  classideas  birds  animals  behavior  myth  myths  2016  play  intelligence  ants  tools  empathy  toys  adaptability  gestures  communication 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Beasts Of Iceland: The Icelandic Raven - The Reykjavik Grapevine
"After a trip around the Golden Circle, you—our tourist reader—might be wondering: “How the hell does any animal survive on this godforsaken mid-Atlantic rock?” It’s a fair question. With a lack of vegetation, a merciless climate, and generally inhospitable conditions, Iceland isn’t an easy place for any living creature to survive.

That said, there are a number of cool fauna in the country. So, let’s meet the…

Icelandic Raven

From Edgar Allen Poe to Bran Stark, the hypnotic black eyes of the raven have captivated society for millennia. Iceland is of course no exception. In the Sagas, the birds were considered symbols of wisdom and prophecy. Even Óðinn himself had two raven bros—Huginn and Muninn (“Mind” and “Memory,” in English).

Upon first sight, the Icelandic raven, or corvus corax varius, might resemble your average run-of-the-mill creepy raven, but their feathers are actually noticeably less glossy. This is probably because, like Lancome Juicy Tubes, gloss is tacky. Icelanders are way too classy for that shit.

Beauty fades, though, while dumb is forever. Luckily, ravens are one of the smartest birds out there. Not only can they do somersaults, but they have also been known to follow fishing boats and pull up unsuspecting seaman’s lines for a quick snack—a level of avian MacGyver-ness far beyond losers like Huey, Dewey, or Louie.

Nevermore, bitches

Unfortunately, the population of Icelandic ravens has been steadily decreasing for years—so much so that they are now a vulnerable species on the Icelandic Red List of Birds.

It’s quite a quandary. Ravens don’t taste good, nor do they make tasteful wall ornaments like tigers and lions. Why then are Icelanders so raven-ravenous? The answer, obviously, is that all Icelanders are secretly White Walkers and, like Stalin, want to control the amount of information that’s available about Iceland, globally. Don’t worry though, considering Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen just fucked, things aren’t looking too rosy for our blonde, blue-eyed brethren. Long live the raven!

Bonus: here is a cute video of a raven flying around a cat."
iceland  ravens  corvids  birds  nature  2017 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Animals Week - CityLab
"Urban citizens of all species"

[See also: "When City Life Is Wild: This week, we’re fishing up stories about urban animals of all species."
https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/08/when-city-life-is-wild/536097/

"Curbing Your Dog, All Around the World: This blogger has the inside scoop on cities’ cheekiest signs."
https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/08/dog-poop-signs-around-the-world/535920/

"When Crows Attack: One man is on a mission to map bird-on-human aggression around the world."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/when-crows-attack/536409/

"Will Cities Ever Outsmart Rats?: The age-old strategy is “see a rat, kill a rat.” The new plan is to end an infestation before it ever begins."
https://www.citylab.com/solutions/2017/08/smart-cities-fight-rat-infestations-big-data/535407/

"Urban Monkeys Are Too Chunky: Put down that banana! Eating human food is making the world’s city-dwelling simians sick."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/urban-monkeys-are-too-chunky/536055/

"'We Thought We Would Be Ruled By Robots': American crow populations are swelling in cities. Perhaps by better understanding them we can better understand ourselves."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/we-thought-we-would-be-ruled-by-robots/536118/

"The Deer in Your Yard Are Here to Stay: The deer population of the eastern U.S. has exploded and cities are trying to keep it in check. But the options available to them are limited, and fraught."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/the-deer-in-your-yard-are-here-to-stay/535938/

"Green Roofs Are Saving Birds and Hatching Bird-Watchers: When landscape architects attract flocks to urban centers, city dwellers are keen to look up."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/green-design-has-changed-urban-birding/535839/
animals  cities  multispecies  2017  wildlife  pets  nature  birds  deer  monkeys  dogs  rats  crows  corvids 
august 2017 by robertogreco
'We Thought We Would Be Ruled By Robots' - CityLab
"American crow populations are swelling in cities. Perhaps by better understanding them we can better understand ourselves."
crows  corvids  cities  nature  multispecies  wildlife  animals  birds  ravens  2017  arielaberg-riger  urban  urbanism 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Meet the Bird Brainiacs: Common Raven | Audubon
[See also:

"Crows and Ravens are Masters of Self-Control: New study shows that corvids know when patience pays off." (2014)
http://www.audubon.org/news/crows-and-ravens-are-masters-self-control-0

"Remarkably Curious and Intelligent, Crows and Ravens Deserve a Closer Look: A new book offers a close look at the lives of these wonderfully smart, charismatic birds." (2013)
http://www.audubon.org/magazine/may-june-2013/remarkably-curious-and-intelligent-crows-and ]
2016  ravens  corvids  birds  animals  alisaopar  2013  2014  nature  crows  intelligence 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Ravens have paranoid, abstract thoughts about other minds | WIRED UK
"Cementing their status as the most terrifying of all the birds, a new study has found that ravens are able to imagine being spied upon -- a level of abstraction that was previously thought to be unique to humans.

The ability to think abstractly about other minds is singled out by many as a uniquely human trait. Now, a study from the Universities of Houston and Vienna have found that ravens are able to adapt their behaviour by attributing their perceptions to others.

The study, published in Nature Communications, found that if a nearby peephole was open, ravens guarded pockets of food against discovery in response to the sound of other birds -- even if they didn't see another bird. This was not replicated when the peephole was closed, despite hearing the same auditory clues.

According to the study's authors, the discovery "shed[s] a new light on Theory of Mind" -- the ability to attribute mental states to others. A number of studies have found that animals are able to understand what others see -- but only when they can see the head or eyes, which provide gaze cues. This suggests that these animals are responding only to surface cues, and are not experiencing the same abstraction as humans.

The ability to hide food is extremely important to ravens, and they behave completely differently when they feel they are being watched -- hiding food more quickly, for example, and are less likely to return to a hiding place for fear of revealing the location to a competitor.

The study replicated this behaviour. Two rooms were connected by windows and peepholes, both of which could be opened and closed. The ravens were trained to look through the peepholes to observe human experimenters making stashes of food. Finally, both windows were covered while a single peephole remained open -- and, though no bird was present, the ravens still hid the food as if they were being watched.

"Completing this evolutionary and developmental picture will bring us much closer to figuring out what's really unique about the human mind" —Cameron Buckner, University of Houston

"We showed that ravens can generalise from their own experience using the peephole as a pilferer, and predict that audible competitors could potentially see their caches through the peephole," the authors wrote. "Consequently, we argue that they represent 'seeing' in a way that cannot be reduced to the tracking of gaze cues."

Although ravens may not seem similar to humans, the two species do have something in common -- their social lives. Like humans, ravens go through distinct social phases, from fluid interaction with other birds as adolescents to stable breeding pairs in adults. "There is a time when who is in the pack, who's a friend, who's an enemy can change very rapidly," said Cameron Buckner, lead author of the research. "There are not many other species that demonstrate as much social flexibility. "Ravens cooperate well. They can compete well. They maintain long-term, monogamous relationships. It makes them a good place to look for social cognition, because similar social pressures might have driven the evolution of similarly advanced cognitive capacities in very different species".

It's not the only thing ravens can do -- they've also been found to mimic human speech, complete complex logic puzzles and show empathy for fellow birds, which Buckner says could "change our perception of human uniqueness". "Finding that Theory of Mind is present in birds would require us to give up a popular story as to what makes humans special," he said. "Completing this evolutionary and developmental picture will bring us much closer to figuring out what's really unique about the human mind"."
ravens  theoryofmind  corvids  birds  2016  animals  nature  psychology  intelligence 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Like Humans and Apes, Ravens Have the Foresight to Save Up for the Future | Audubon
"Even to a casual observer, it’s fairly obvious that corvids—a family of birds that includes crows, ravens, and jays—have got more going on between their ears than most birds. They’re masters at curbing impulses, are cognizant of familiar faces, and meticulous when taking stock of their stash.

A new study, published today in Science, suggests that ravens are even smarter than suspected. The series of experiments shows that ravens are able to use past experiences to plan ahead for future events, and exhibit some self-control in the process—behaviors previously observed only in humans and apes.

“Evolutionarily, there is a vast separation between great apes and corvids,” says Can Kabadayi, an author of the study and graduate student in cognitive science at Sweden’s Lund University. The last time ravens and apes shared a common ancestor was 320 million years ago, he says, “yet ravens show similar skill sets and combine them, similarly to great apes.”

In a first set of experiments, similar to those conducted on great apes and humans, Kabadayi and Lund University’s Mathias Osvath looked for signs of corvid foresight by studying how Common Ravens use and store objects with no immediate use, but in the future might provide them with a reward. Five adult ravens were presented with a selection of objects: some could be bartered with a person for treats, and others could open a puzzle box with a treat hidden inside. The ravens quickly learned that they could trade certain tokens for treats, or use the correct tool—in this case a small stone—to release the treat from the box. They began saving tokens and stones, as though they planned to use them when the next opportunity to trade or open a box presented itself.

“Ravens like to hide and cache items, but not at random,” Kabadayi says. “Caching shows that they value items for a specific purpose. In this context, ravens cached boring stones and tokens because they saw value based on how they used the items before.”

[video]

The researchers then tested whether the birds could remember how their ‘boring’ objects worked, first after 15 minutes, and again after 17 hours. During the waiting periods, the ravens continued to fixate on the tokens and tools they’d need for future treats, and ultimately, they excelled at the task. Even after the delays, they were better at planning future trades than orangutans, bonobos, and chimpanzees, and they matched apes at planning and using tools—despite the fact that they never need tools to gather food in the wild.

“These experiments nicely show that ravens flexibly tackle a certain problem outside of what they do naturally,” says Markus Böckle, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge who wrote an opinion piece for Science about the new research.

In a second set of tests, the researchers wanted to see if ravens could show some self-control. They presented the ravens with a number of objects on a tray, including bartering tokens, box-opening stones, miscellaneous items, and a treat that was subpar compared to the treat in the box. Instead of going for the instant gratification of the subpar treat, the ravens opted to use the tokens and tools to get the superior treat from the box—100 percent of the time when they could nibble on their prize immediately after opening the box, and about 70 percent of the time when they had to wait 15 minutes. The longer they had to wait, the less they valued a future reward.

Even though the ravens’ abilities matched those of apes—or even surpassed them—they actually evolved separately. “In the early 1990s, we discovered that birds share several neurobiological structures with mammals, showing the capability of complex cognition,” Böckle says. “We are sure that the common ancestor of ravens and great apes didn’t have complex cognitive behavior, so somewhere along the line, we believe birds evolved cognition independently.”

The discoveries by Kabadayi and his team open up new avenues for understanding how intelligence has developed in different branches of the evolutionary tree. And for many birders, this work confirms what we’ve long known: Raven smarts aren't too far off from our own."

[Study referenced:
"Ravens parallel great apes in flexible planning for tool-use and bartering"
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6347/202
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/suppl/2017/07/12/357.6347.202.DC1/aam8138-Kabadayi-SM.pdf ]

[See also:
"Evermore: ravens can plan for the future, scientists say"
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/13/raven-think-about-future-planning-science-experiment

"More Evidence That Ravens Are Ridiculously Intelligent Birds"
https://gizmodo.com/more-evidence-that-ravens-are-ridiculously-intelligent-1796882085

"Ravens Surprise Scientists By Showing They Can Plan"
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/13/537040868/ravens-surprise-scientists-by-showing-they-can-plan

"Ravens ignore a treat in favor of a useful tool for the future: Planning ahead means they're even smarter than we thought."
https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/07/ravens-ignore-a-treat-in-favor-of-a-useful-tool-for-the-future/ ]
ravens  corvids  birds  intelligence  animals  nature  2017  cankabadayi 
july 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
OUT NOW! Shitgulls and environmental education – SAND
"“We were standing at the edge of an uncovered compost area with the child. Rest of the children were further away. The area was filled with birds scavenging for food. A Seagull flew over our heads. ‘That’s a SHITgull!’ said the boy pointing at the bird. ‘My dad says they’re SHIT birds and they ought to be SHOT’ he said, looking at me.

The shitgull as a child–within–nature configuration was a fleeting bond that was simultaneously enabled by and transgressed the boundaries of ‘child’ and ‘nature’. The bird was looking for food when we interrupted him. Leftover food that had been collected from humans and dumped in the huge open compost. Causing seagulls, ravens, crows and magpies to flock and populate the compost heaps, attracting also rats and smaller rodents. Causing the landfill personnel to put up scarecrows and nets to which the birds would get tangled and hang flapping upside down until their slow death. Because of eating human waste. Shit. The relation between the Seagull and the boy was that of mutual disaffect and avoidance – of categorical, concrete and symbolic using of each other. The Seagull for food, the boy for seeking a let out for his feelings and confusion over his dad, it seemed. Without the bird, the boy could not have been an unhappy, angry, death-wishing child – an adamant and intentional non-child. Knowing that I take care of injured birds, plenty of seagulls included, his wish for the bird to be dead, pointed at me, was especially weighty. As the child declined his childness the bird declined his wildness. He survived on human waste and witnessed his fellow gulls dying, tangled in the nets above the compost. The ‘shitgull’ was an event of ill-being for all involved; yet it was an event of the utmost interdependence. An interdependence gone wrong.”"

[points to: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2017.1325446 ]
multispecies  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  2017  pauliinarautio  riikkahohti  riita-marjaleinonen  tuuretammi  seagulls  gulls  animals  nature  birds  children  ravens  crows  corvids  magpies  interdependence  independence 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Thinking about life and species lines with Pietari and Otto (and garlic breath) (PDF Download Available)
"Concepts can be thought of as answers to questions posed by the world. Concepts are answers insomuch as they are particular ways of thinking about and act- ing within the world – to the exclusion of others. In some cases we have grown accustomed to certain answers or conceptualisations to the extent that the original questions are no longer easily available. For example, having grown up and been educated in a Nordic welfare state context of post-enlightenment era anthropocentrism and natural scientific rationality (Snaza et al. 2014), like the generations before me, I tend to keep falling back to the concepts of “human” and “animal”. To get to the question of animate life on Earth, and then to envisage new answers, is to overcome decades of sedimented ontologies – settled ideas, lived constructs and understandings of what it is to be human, what it is to be an individual defined by the construct of species.

This paper is dedicated to my non-human/more-than-human co-authors Pietari of the Columbae family and Otto of the Corvidae family. Together we write about how the notion of “life” can be understood beyond species categories, beyond individual bodies and beyond linear time. That is, when “a life” refers to some- thing shared, something multiple, rather than something singular. We also write about and take up concepts as methods in a multispecies inquiry (Rautio, in press). In this paper, multispecies inquiry is not only an inquiry with and between species but inquiry into the very idea of there be- ing multiple species – it is a deconstruction and a reconsideration of life divided by species lines."
animals  multispecies  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  birds  crows  pauliinarautio  corvids  pigeons  morethanhuman 
june 2017 by robertogreco
What Animals Taught Me About Being Human - The New York Times
"Surrounding myself with animals to feel less alone was a mistake: The greatest comfort is in knowing their lives are not about us at all."



"Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves. The purpose of animals in medieval bestiaries, for example, was to give us lessons in how to live. I don’t know anyone who now thinks of pelicans as models of Christian self-sacrifice, or the imagined couplings of vipers and lampreys as an allegorical exhortation for wives to put up with unpleasant husbands. But our minds still work like bestiaries. We thrill at the notion that we could be as wild as a hawk or a weasel, possessing the inner ferocity to go after the things we want; we laugh at animal videos that make us yearn to experience life as joyfully as a bounding lamb. A photograph of the last passenger pigeon makes palpable the grief and fear of our own unimaginable extinction. We use animals as ideas to amplify and enlarge aspects of ourselves, turning them into simple, safe harbors for things we feel and often cannot express.

None of us see animals clearly. They’re too full of the stories we’ve given them. Encountering them is an encounter with everything you’ve ever learned about them from previous sightings, from books, images, conversations. Even rigorous scientific studies have asked questions of animals in ways that reflect our human concerns. In the late 1930s, for example, when the Dutch and Austrian ethologists Niko Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz towed models resembling flying hawks above turkey chicks, they were trying to prove that these birds hatched with a hard-wired image resembling an airborne bird of prey already in their minds that compelled them to freeze in terror. While later research has suggested it is very likely that young turkeys actually learn what to fear from other turkeys, the earlier experiment is still valuable, not least for what it says about human fears. To me it seems shaped by the historical anxieties of a Europe threatened for the first time by large-scale aerial warfare, when pronouncements were made that “the bomber will always get through,” no matter how tight the national defense."



"For some weeks, I’ve been worried about the health of family and friends. Today I’ve stared at a computer screen for hours. My eyes hurt. My heart does, too. Feeling the need for air, I sit on the step of my open back door and see a rook, a sociable species of European crow, flying low toward my house through gray evening air. Straightaway I use the trick I learned as a child, and all my difficult emotions lessen as I imagine how the press of cooling air might feel against its wings. But my deepest relief doesn’t come from imagining I can feel what the rook feels, know what the rook knows — instead, it’s slow delight in recognizing that I cannot. These days I take emotional solace from understanding that animals are not like me, that their lives are not about us at all. The house it’s flying over has meaning for both of us. To me, it is home. To a rook? A way point on a journey, a collection of tiles and slopes, useful as a perch or a thing to drop walnuts on in autumn to make them shatter and let it winkle out the flesh inside.

Then there is something else. As it passes overhead, the rook tilts its head to regard me briefly before flying on. And with that glance I feel a prickling in my skin that runs down my spine, and my sense of place shifts. The rook and I have shared no purpose. For one brief moment we noticed each other, is all. When I looked at the rook and the rook looked at me, I became a feature of its landscape as much as it became a feature of mine. Our separate lives, for that moment, coincided, and all my anxiety vanished in that one fugitive moment, when a bird in the sky on its way somewhere else pulled me back into the world by sending a glance across the divide."
animals  multispecies  posthumanism  humans  2017  helenmacdonald  crows  corvids  rooks  thomasnagel  birds  nature  wildlife  human-animalrelations  anthropomorphism  human-animalrelationships  nikotinbergen  konradlorenz 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Why ravens, crows are more common now in Bay Area - SFGate
"Not so long ago, common ravens were uncommon in the Bay Area. A 1927 reference calls them "rare" except at Point Reyes. American crows lived mostly along the Marin County coast, not in the East Bay.

In 1991, Audubon Christmas Bird Counts tallied 17 crows and 54 ravens in San Francisco; 60 crows and 23 ravens in Oakland. The 2011 San Francisco count reported 599 ravens and 566 crows; Oakland had 1,152 crows and 193 ravens.

Remarkable, especially considering that crows, if not ravens, are highly susceptible to the West Nile virus. California Department of Public Health statistics show more dead crows than any other bird species testing positive for West Nile: 1,792 in 2008; 468 last year. (Raven mortality was minor.) The disease devastated crow populations in the East and Midwest, but California populations weren't dented.

Much of the crow and raven boom is urban. Birder Josiah Clark has seen flocks of 90 ravens in San Francisco. City crows are hard to miss in Berkeley and elsewhere in the East Bay; they're certainly, noisily, all over our neighborhood.

What brings them here? Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology notes that they don't get shot in cities; they benefit from both federal protected status and local firearms ordinances. That alone may encourage boldness. Also, he says, cities tend to be warmer than the countryside, and have large trees for night roosting. Urban crows are less likely to encounter their mortal enemy, the great horned owl, and city lights let crows spot owls before the owls spot them.

There's food, too: not so much the landfill smorgasbord (more the gulls' beat) as the fast-food parking lot buffet. "We eat so much out of doors now that these very intelligent birds can access all those food scraps we just drop or toss on the street," said Dan Murphy, compiler of the San Francisco Christmas Count. Some people feed them on purpose, too."

[See also:

"Clever crows, ravens crowd the Bay Area"
http://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/thedirt/article/Clever-crows-ravens-crowd-the-Bay-Area-2738443.php

"They’re everywhere! Crows, ravens overrun Bay Area"
http://www.mercurynews.com/2015/02/14/theyre-everywhere-crows-ravens-overrun-bay-area/ ]
sanfrancisco  crows  ravens  birds  corvids  bayarea  2012 
january 2017 by robertogreco
How to Tell a Raven From a Crow | Audubon
"You’re outside, enjoying a sunny day when a shadow at your feet causes you to look up. A large, black bird flies over and lands in a nearby tree. You wonder: is that a crow or a raven?

These two species, Common Ravens and American Crows, overlap widely throughout North America, and they look quite similar. But with a bit of practice, you can tell them apart.

You probably know that ravens are larger, the size of a Red-tailed Hawk. Ravens often travel in pairs, while crows are seen in larger groups. Also, watch the bird’s tail as it flies overhead. The crow’s tail feathers are basically the same length, so when the bird spreads its tail, it opens like a fan. Ravens, however, have longer middle feathers in their tails, so their tail appears wedge-shaped when open.

Listen closely to the birds’ calls. Crows give a cawing sound. But ravens produce a lower croaking sound.

We’re back looking up at that tree. Now can you tell? Is this an American Crow or a Common Raven?

That’s a raven. The bird calls you hear on BirdNote come from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. To hear them again, begin with a visit to our website, BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein."

[audio here: http://birdnote.org/show/ravens-and-crows-who-who ]
crows  ravens  corvids  2012  birds  animals  nature 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Do Crows Hold Funerals for Their Dead?
"Many who have heard the melancholy cry of the mourning dove might wonder: Do birds grieve for their loved ones?

For this Saturday’s Weird Animal Question of the Week Emilie Bouef commented via Facebook: "I heard that ravens do some kind of funeral when one of them dies. I’d love to know more about this."

Calling to each other, gathering around, and paying special attention to a fallen comrade is common among the highly intelligent corvids, a group of birds that includes crows, jays, magpies, and ravens, says Kaeli Swift, a Ph.D student in environmental science at the University of Washington. (See "Are Crows Smarter Than Children?")

But it doesn't necessarily mean the birds are mourning for their lost buddy. Rather, they're likely trying to find out if there's a threat where the death occurred, so they can avoid it in the future.

In a study published recently in the journal Animal Behaviour, Swift found that American crows associate people seen handling dead crows with danger, and can be wary of feeding near such people."
crows  corvids  birds  multispecies  animals  wildlife  culture  behavior  death  funerals  2015  nature  kaeliswift  intelligence 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Ravens attribute visual access to unseen competitors : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group
"Recent studies purported to demonstrate that chimpanzees, monkeys and corvids possess a basic Theory of Mind, the ability to attribute mental states like seeing to others. However, these studies remain controversial because they share a common confound: the conspecific’s line of gaze, which could serve as an associative cue. Here, we show that ravens Corvus corax take into account the visual access of others, even when they cannot see a conspecific. Specifically, we find that ravens guard their caches against discovery in response to the sounds of conspecifics when a peephole is open but not when it is closed. Our results suggest that ravens can generalize from their own perceptual experience to infer the possibility of being seen. These findings confirm and unite previous work, providing strong evidence that ravens are more than mere behaviour-readers."
corvids  monkeys  chimpanzees  2015  theoryofmind 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Bird IQ Tests: 8 Ways Researchers Test Bird Intelligence | Audubon
"A crow is supposedly as smart as a 7-year-old. Here’s how scientists figured that—and other facts—out.

Forget the old saying: Birds are pretty bright. They’re capable of navigating thousands of miles during biannual migrations, using tools to better access their food, and even counting from left to right. The basic definition of intelligence is the ability to solve novel problems, says Damian Scarf, a psychology professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand. And at least some birds have the knack—heck, crows’ reasoning skills might even be on par with those of a 7-year-old child.

Unlike kids, however, birds can’t be convinced to sit down and take IQ tests. So how do researchers suss out avian smarts? They have a battery of bird-specific tests that assess the baseline braininess of species as a whole, and show the range of avian intelligence between species and individuals (just like humans, some individual birds are brighter than others).

Here is a sampling of standardized tests and creative assessments that scientists have used to gauge bird intelligence."



"Aesop’s Fable Test

Skills: Tool use, problem solving

Test: In one ancient Greek lesson, a crow sates its thirst by dropping small stones into a pitcher until the water is easily accessible at the top of the vessel. In a 2014 experiment, researchers set up a similar scenario, providing birds a water-filled tube with floating food just out of reach, and sinkable objects.

Result: The crows consistently put objects into the tube until the treats were high enough to munch. Scientists have conducted similar tests on rooks and jays, and even on children."
via:tealtan  crows  corvids  intelligence  birds  aesip'sfables  2016 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Trash Animals — University of Minnesota Press
"From pigeons to prairie dogs, reflections on reviled animals and their place in contemporary life

In Trash Animals, a diverse group of environmental writers explore the natural history of wildlife species deemed filthy, invasive, or worthless, highlighting the vexed relationship humans have with such creatures. Each essay focuses on a so-called trash species—gulls, coyotes, carp, and magpies, among others—examining the biology and behavior of each in contrast to the assumptions widely held about them."

[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/579805654065360897
in response to https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/579804681314131968 ]
animals  books  environment  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  multispecies  pigeons  wildlife  urban  urbanism  coyotes  seagulls  carp  birds  fish  corvids  biology  behavior  kelsinagy  phillipdavidjohnson  invasivespecies  feral  nature  2013 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Episode 51: CROWS | The BitterSweet Life
"Gabi (age 8) regularly feeds crows and they bring her shiny things in return. Today she shows host Katy Sewall her crow-gift collection. We'll also find out why crows give gifts and how you can earn gifts too!"

[See also: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31604026 ]
crows  corvids  animals  birds  nature  children  2015  behavior  collections  multispecies  gifts  johnmarzluff  tonyangell  katysewall  seattle  washingtonstate  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
february 2015 by robertogreco
BBC News - The girl who gets gifts from birds
"Lots of people love the birds in their garden, but it's rare for that affection to be reciprocated. One young girl in Seattle is luckier than most. She feeds the crows in her garden - and they bring her gifts in return."

[See also: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31604026 ]
crows  corvids  animals  birds  nature  children  2015  behavior  collections  multispecies  seattle  washingtonstate  johnmarzluff  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Pied raven - Wikipedia
"The pied raven (Corvus corax varius morpha leucophaeus) was a colour morph[1] of the North Atlantic subspecies of the Common Raven which was only found on the Faroe Islands and has disappeared since the mid twentieth century. It had large areas of white feathering, most frequently on the head, the wings and the belly, and its beak was light brown. Apart from that, it looked like the black ravens (morpha typicus)."
corvids  color 
december 2014 by robertogreco
How urbanisation can be a friend to birds – John M Marzluff – Aeon
"Human sprawl is usually a threat to wildlife, but birds buck the trend. Can we help biodiversity take wing in our suburbs?"



"I am not claiming that suburban sprawl is the answer to our conservation prayers: many species of sensitive and rare birds could never survive in our ’burbs. Even fewer animals that crawl or walk, such as mammals, reptiles and amphibians, manage to live long among us. And, where terrestrial biological diversity is greatest – in the magnificent tropical rainforests – biodiversity is steadily lost with progressive development. But development can enrich local areas by providing what many tolerant species require. Although ensuring global diversity still requires that we leave undisturbed space elsewhere for sensitive species, even then, the political will to create such reserves depends on our experiences with local diversity."



"The response of birds to urbanisation is only just beginning. Humans began living in cities around 5,000 years ago. Today, more than half of all people are urbanites. As exploiters and adapters learn and evolve strategies to survive among us, I expect to see new and stronger co-evolved relationships between people and other city animals. As well as kindling a diverse urban biota, it might even create unforeseen species.

One of the world’s oldest and largest cities illustrates what the future might hold for birds. Crows, which are supremely intelligent and innovative, thrive in most northern cities. In Japan’s capital Tokyo, the jungle crow has developed an array of cultural traditions well-suited to city life. Some crows gather walnuts, but because their shells are too tough to crack open by beak, the crows place them where passing cars can become nutcrackers. Other crows that live in the inner city, where the sticks necessary for nest-building are rare, routinely pilfer clothes hangers that they bend and weave into unique nests.

In A Sand County Almanac (1949), Aldo Leopold, the founding father of wildlife science, noted that, because we view land as a commodity rather than a community to which we belong, we're incapable of loving and respecting it. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in our cities and suburbs, where a small parcel of land and the home built on it is a substantial investment. But the economic value of land need not be incompatible with its ecological value; after all, houses fetch higher prices in tree-filled subdivisions where birds flourish. Letting your lawn go wild (which benefits butterflies) reduces the cost of maintenance. And surrounding metropolitan areas with a healthy, vegetated watershed saves millions of dollars every year in water purification costs.

Even without monetary incentives, experiencing nature right outside the door builds empathy. In East Brunswick, New Jersey, and Palo Alto, California, residents appalled at the roadway slaughter of newts and salamanders, created safe passageways for them in the form of small tunnels or temporary road closures. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution have stirred up a passion for conservation in Washington, DC, by involving residents in their suburban bird research. The more personal a bird becomes to a human – by tagging it, or simply discovering its nest – the easier it is to make sacrifices on its behalf."



"My enthusiasm for wilderness remains intact, but it’s become part of a broader conservation ethic that places equal value on nearby nature. Wondering and learning from our urban ecosystem teaches us to value nature in its broadest sense. In our cities and backyards, we experience how natural processes pay economic, spiritual and biological dividends. Noticing the responses of animals and plants to our actions provides a glimpse into the creative power of natural selection. As our appreciation for nature and the ecological and evolutionary processes that shape it grows from direct experience, our gardens work symbiotically with wilderness to inform our land ethic and conserve the full range of life."
nature  birds  animals  cities  biodiversity  adaptation  evolution  wildlife  2014  johnmarzluff  crows  corvids  aldoleopold  empathy  urban  urbanism  conservation  suburbs  subirdia  suburbia  ecology 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Chris Skaife, Master Raven Keeper at the Tower of London, & Merlin the Raven | Spitalfields Life
"The keeping of ravens at the Tower is a serious business, since legend has it that, ‘If the ravens leave the Tower, the kingdom will fall…’ Fortunately, we can all rest assured thanks to Chris Skaife who undertakes his breakfast duties conscientiously, delivering bloody morsels to the ravens each dawn and thereby ensuring their continued residence at this most favoured of accommodations.“We keep them in night boxes for their own safety,” Chris explained to me, just in case I should think the ravens were incarcerated at the Tower like those monarchs of yore, “because we have quite a lot of foxes that get in through the sewers at night.”"
ravens  corvids  2014  london  domestication  birds  animals  via:anne  photography  chrisskaife 
may 2014 by robertogreco
The Magpies
"The Magpies

When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm
The bracken made their bed
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Tom's hand was strong to the plough
and Elizabeth's lips were red
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Year in year out they worked
while the pines grew overhead
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

But all the beautiful crops soon went
to the mortgage man instead
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Elizabeth is dead now (it's long ago)
Old Tom's gone light in the head
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

The farms still there. Mortgage corporations
couldn't give it away
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies say.

Dennis Glover

Artists are people who make us see the world differently. Altho' Glover may not have been the greatest poet of all time he was an entirely real one, but he has always been easy to underestimate because his versification is so domestic and so easy on the ear that one doesn't notice how skilful it is. Ars celare artem. Once you know this poem, whenever you hear a New Zealand magpie call, you will hear it as Glover tells us to hear it: magpies say ``Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle''- they really do. Ask any New Zealander. The fact that is actually quite a good wee poem about what the Great Depression did to farming is a pleasant bonus that is in danger of being overlooked.

Janet Paul once told me that I was better company than Glover because he was drunk all the time. I treasure this compliment: to judge by the poetry he wrote Glover must have been very good company indeed. (memo to self: stay off bottle!)"
poems  poetry  newzealand  dennisglover  magpies  corvids  trickster  art  artists  glvo  birds  janetpaul  thomasforster 
december 2013 by robertogreco
New Caledonian Crows Owe Their Toolmaking Skills to a Nourishing Nest - NYTimes.com
"So how do the birds get so crafty at crafting? New reports in the journals Animal Behaviour and Learning and Behavior by researchers at the University of Auckland suggest that the formula for crow success may not be terribly different from the nostrums commonly served up to people: Let your offspring have an extended childhood in a stable and loving home; lead by example; offer positive reinforcement; be patient and persistent; indulge even a near-adult offspring by occasionally popping a fresh cockroach into its mouth; and realize that at any moment a goshawk might swoop down and put an end to the entire pedagogical program."
crows  corvids  parenting  criticalthinking  problemsolving  newcaledoniancrows  animals  birds  nature  nurture  teaching  patience  modeling  mentoring  mentorship  love  stability 
february 2011 by robertogreco
The Crow Paradox : NPR [see also: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/science/26crow.html]
"Here's a surprise: Wild crows can recognize individual people. They can pick a person out of a crowd, follow them, and remember them — apparently for years. But people — even people who love crows — usually can't tell them apart. So what we have for you are two experiments that tell this story. ... If you want to hear researchers describe what it's like to alienate a crow, and then be razzed and harassed by its family and neighbors wherever they go — tennis courts, ATM machines, parking lots — listen to our radio story. We'll also tell you how unbelievably long a crow can keep a grudge."
corvids  crows  birds  biology  memory  behavior  intelligence  nature  recognition  animals  research  science  faces 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Huginn and Muninn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"In Norse mythology, Huginn (Old Norse "thought") and Muninn (Old Norse "memory" or "mind"[3]) are a pair of ravens that fly all over the world, Midgard, and bring the god Odin information. Huginn and Muninn are attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; in the Third Grammatical Treatise, compiled in the 13th century by Óláfr Þórðarson; and in the poetry of skalds. The names of the ravens are sometimes modernly anglicized as Hugin and Munin (with a single n each)."
hugnn  hugin  muninn  munin  ravens  crows  corvids  norse  norsemythology  mythology  odin  memory  information  thought  mind  annabelscheme  poeticedda 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Friend or Foe? Crows Never Forget a Face, It Seems - NYTimes.com
"To test the birds’ recognition of faces separately from that of clothing, gait and other individual human characteristics, Dr. Marzluff and two students wore rubber masks. He designated a caveman mask as “dangerous” and, in a deliberate gesture of civic generosity, a Dick Cheney mask as “neutral.” Researchers in the dangerous mask then trapped and banded seven crows on the university’s campus in Seattle.
crows  corvids  intelligence  birds  memory  facerecognition  masks 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Science News / I, Magpie
"Songbirds show signs of recognizing their own bodies in mirrors."
science  psychology  biology  animals  birds  magpies  corvids  crows  intelligence 
august 2008 by robertogreco

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