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robertogreco : crows   62

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 
10 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Corvids: The Birds Who Think Like Humans
"Someday I will come up with a good reason why I am friends with the neighborhood crows. For now, I can say that it started when I looked up from my office window to see this big flock of crows hanging out on the roof of an apartment building nearby. I had heard that these creatures, part of a larger family of birds called corvids, were among the smartest animals in the world. If they were that intelligent, I wanted to meet them. How could I get those awesome animals to come visit me? I decided to find out."

"Do crows, jays and other corvids share with humans the ability to know themselves and know other creatures too? Or are they merely acting on instinct, which we mistake for more complex thought patterns? It's impossible to say for certain. But there is no doubt that they are extremely intelligent, social animals, who count humans among those creatures they are willing to trust."
nature  science  behavior  animals  birds  crows  2012  annaleenewitz 
december 2012 by robertogreco
I'm in love with the idea that the English word "hawk" is an import from crow language. Are there any other names that we've learnt from other species? | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
"I'm in love with the idea that the English word "hawk" is an import from crow language. Are there any other names that we've learnt from other species?"

(2312, Kim Stanley Robinson. Robinson often gets ideas from scientific papers, so I'd love to read the one this came from.)
english  birds  kimstanleyrobinson  mattwebb  2012  interspecieslearning  animals  words  language  crows 
december 2012 by robertogreco
The Official Crow Box Kit
"The Crow Box is a device designed to autonomously train crows. So far we’ve trained captive crows to deposit dropped coins they find on the ground in exchange for peanuts. The next step is to try it with wild crows and see if we can get them to learn to use the box, then to optimize the training system for them, and then to see how quickly they can learn it from each other.

That's where you come in. Different crows learn at different speeds and in different ways, and the only way to figure out the best way to teach them is experimentation. The more people trying different things the faster we'll all figure out how to work cooperatively with crows.

Once we’ve got the system optimized for teaching coin collection we can move to seeing how flexibly they can learn *other* tasks, like collecting garbage, sorting through discarded electronics, or maybe even search and rescue. Crows continue to amaze us with their abilities, so who knows?"
crowbox  projectideas  animals  birds  crows 
august 2012 by robertogreco
borderland/sidebar - I’d like to offer one of my favorite poems, by Grace Butcher
"…a story…about a crow who, like me at this moment, like all the rest of us all the time, is at the end of something, and at the beginning of something.

Crow is Walking

Crow is walking
to see things at ground level,
the landscape as new under his feet
as the air is old under his wings.

He leaves the dead rabbit waiting—
it’s a given; it’ll always be there—
and walks on down the dirt road,

admires the pebbles, how they sparkle in the sun;

checks out his reflection
in a puddle full of sky
which reminds him
of where he’s supposed to be,

but he’s beginning to like
the way the muscles move in his legs
and the way his wings feel so comfortable
folded back and resting.

He thinks he might be beautiful,
the sun lighting his back
with purple and green.

Faint voices from somewhere far ahead
roll like dust down the road towards him.
He hurries a little.

His tongue moves in his mouth;
legends of language move in his mind.

His beak opens.
He tries a word."
yearoff2  change  gracebutcher  2012  cv  ends  beginnings  crows  poetry  poems  yearoff 
may 2012 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
Clever Crows Prove Aesop’s Fable Is More Than Fiction | Wired Science | Wired.com
"“The results of these experiments provide the first empirical evidence that a species of corvid is capable of the remarkable problem-solving ability described more than two thousand years ago by Aesop,” wrote the researchers in the paper published Thursday in Current Biology. “What was once thought to be a fictional account of the solution by a bird appears to have been based on a cognitive reality.”"
crows  birds  intelligence  problemsolving  aesop  animals  behavior  science 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Crows use causal reasoning - Boing Boing
"The use of causal reasoning to solve problems was previously thought to be something only humans can do. But new research suggests that crows are capable of it too. University of Auckland cognitive scientist Alex Taylor and his colleagues devised an experiment to test New Caledonian crows' causal reasoning. Turns out, they were able to succeed where even chimps fail."
crows  animals  intelligence  reasoning  behavior  nature  birds 
september 2008 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
MAKE: Blog: It's happening, birds are stealing money
"Back in 2005 I picked Josh Klein's "crow vending machine" as one of my favorite projects from the ITP show... and now a year later it seems to be happening - these birds made off with $4,000... The question is, who is giving them peanuts."
crows  intelligence  animals  behavior  nature  birds 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Bees Enlisted to Attack Crows in Tokyo
"After years of being attacked by crows, a colony of seabirds nesting in Tokyo is getting an unlikely ally: the tiny honeybee."
bees  zoology  crows  japan 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Local crow population boom is murder on some residents | The San Diego Union-Tribune
"Annual bird counts by local Audubon Society chapters record signs of their march. In 1984 the society counted no crows in a 15-mile-diameter circle centered near the Chula Vista Nature Center. A year later, it found one. In December 2006, 589."
crows  sandiego  lajolla  birds  nature  animals 
june 2008 by robertogreco
New Caledonian Crow - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"These crows are the only non-human animals known to invent new tools by modifying existing ones, and then passing these innovations on to other individuals in the cultural group. They have also been seen making tools that they use in the wild out of comp
intelligence  animals  crows  birds  tools 
june 2008 by robertogreco
YouTube - Crow Vending Machine
"The goal of this project is to create a device that will autonomously train crows. Initially we're training them to deposit dropped coins they find on the ground in exchange for peanuts, but eventually we hope to be able to train them to search and rescu
crows  animals  birds  intelligence  joshuaklein  video 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Crows.net: The Language and Culture of Crows
"A site for cooperative research on the language and culture of the American crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos....we hope to use as a nexus for correlating research and observations on the American crow."
crows  birds  animals  research  reference  intelligence 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: Caw of the Wild: Observations from the Secret World of Crows: Barb Kirpluk: Books
"Caw of the Wild is an in-depth exploration into the intriguing and complex behavior of one of North America’s most intelligent, but often reviled, birds—the American crow. As a passionate observer, author Barb Kirpluk shares her extraordinary and fas
crows  birds  animals  books 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds: Bernd Heinrich: Books
"He has observed startlingly complex activities among ravens, including strong pair-bonding, use of tools, elaborate vocal communication, and even play. Ravens are just plain smart, and we can see much of ourselves in their behavior. They seem to be affec
crows  birds  animals  books 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays: Candace Savage: Books
"The ancients who regarded these remarkable birds as oracles, bringers of wisdom, or agents of vengeance were on the right track, for corvids appear to have powers of abstraction, memory, and creativity that put them on a par with many mammals, even highe
crows  birds  animals  books 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: In the Company of Crows and Ravens: John M. Marzluff, Tony Angell, Paul R. Ehrlich: Books
"In this delightful blend of science, art, and anthropology, biologist Marzluff and illustrator Angell, both fascinated by the corvids, demonstrate why the crows and ravens are worthy of study and respect. Crows and ravens are adaptable, intelligent, and
crows  birds  animals  books 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: Crows: Encounters with the Wise Guys of the Avian World (Greystone Nature): Candace Savage: Books
"Who knew that crows are second only to humans as toolmakers and tool users, that they have complex family lives not unlike our own, and that their vocalizations resemble human languages? This witty, charming book introduces readers to these endlessly fas
crows  birds  animals  books 
may 2008 by robertogreco
TED | Talks | Joshua Klein: The amazing intelligence of crows (video)
"Hacker and writer Joshua Klein is fascinated by crows. (Notice the gleam of intelligence in their little black eyes?) After a long amateur study of corvid behavior, he's come up with an elegant machine that may form a new bond between animal and human."
crows  animals  joshuaklein  intelligence  environment  behavior  adaptation  evolution  hacking  science  ted  technology  nature 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Animal Minds: Minds of their Own: Animals are smarter than you think. - National Geographic Magazine
"if animals are simply machines, how can the appearance of human intelligence be explained?...A whole range of animal studies now suggest that the roots of cognition are deep, widespread, and highly malleable."
animals  intelligence  science  brain  psychology  language  evolution  species  communication  cognition  thinking  dogs  behavior  crows 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Joshua Klein, Mobile, Personal, and Future Technology Specialist
"A Vending Machine for Crows An Experiment in Corvid Learning and Resource Acquisition Strategy Transmission"
crows  animals  science  research  technology  biology  art  psychology  behavior  inventions  learning  hacking  wildlife  intelligence  joshuaklein 
march 2008 by robertogreco
…My heart’s in Accra » TED2008: Very smart crows. [Joshua Klein]
"has been using Skinnerian training to get crows to do something quite absurd - use a vending machine....“There are mutually beneficient ways we & crows could live together.” Klein images us working w/ crows to pick up garbage, lead search and rescue"
animals  birds  intelligence  crows  brain 
march 2008 by robertogreco
The Raven's Aviary - Corvidae Sounds
"In addition to their harsh calls and occassional jaded shrieks, most corvids have a repertoire of chirps, rattles, and other odd noises which are less frequently associated with them. Crows and ravens are also great copycats, and have been known to to im
animals  birds  crows  audio  science  nature  sound 
november 2005 by robertogreco

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