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February 5, 2023

Brainy American Crows Highly Adaptable Creatures

WERC cared for four baby crows that were brought to the
center
Murder, she wrote – but don’t call the police.  This “murder” is a group of three baby crows, still sitting in their 21-inch wide nest of twigs and branches, who were brought to the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center in early May after the tree they were in was chopped down too soon. 

Later that month, they were joined by another orphaned crow, which had fallen from its nest in a backyard tree.  The rescuers kept watch over it for a night, but they didn’t see the parent birds come to feed it and they worried about neighborhood cats roaming in the area.  At WERC, volunteers hand-fed the four babies a nutritious, species-specific diet for a month before transferring from a covered playpen to an outside enclosure.

 These large, 17-inch long birds are a beautiful glossy black from beak to tail to feet.  Common at beaches, farmland, suburban yards and open woods, they are year-round residents of the United States, ranging from coast to coast. 

Crows are found throughout most of the world, but their coloring, size and “dialects” may vary from the American Crow.  They are omnivorous and highly adaptable birds, eating a vast variety of foods:  insects, reptiles, rodents, eggs of other birds, corn, fruit, human garbage and carrion (i.e., roadkill).  The crows’ most deadly natural predators are hawks in the daytime and owls at dusk and night.

 Crows, like the other members of the Corvid family – ravens, magpies and jays – are exceptionally intelligent creatures and at the top of the avian IQ scale.  In addition to being superb vocal imitators including human mimicry (they don’t just “caw caw”), these “birdbrains” are well-documented at solving puzzles and retaining and relaying information. 

The crow has provided almost every culture throughout the world and ages with lore and superstitions.  It’s been a love-hate relationship:  Some cultures considered them harbingers of death, but to others, crows represented creation.  They brought either good luck or bad luck.  The crow meant discord to some but was a symbol of the future to the Romans.  Every child knows Aesop’s fable of the smart crow that was nevertheless fooled by the flattering fox into dropping his piece of cheese. 

 When the crows are released in July, their successful rehabilitation will give their rescuers and WERC something to crow about!

WERC, the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center, provides the community with rehabilitation services for orphaned, injured and sick native wildlife. Through its educational programs, WERC encourages a peaceful coexistence between civilization and our native wildlife. WERC does not receive operating funds from any government agency to care for wildlife and is not allowed to charge a fee for this service. It is supported solely by donations from businesses and the public. To contact WERC, call (408) 779-9372 or visit www.werc-ca.org.

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