|American crow- Wikimedia|
This would not happen just 20 miles away on Bull Creek. There the crows keep their distance, warned by their ever present silent lookout high in a tree. When they explore the trees off our deck they may even sit silently a few feet away. If they detect the slightest movement in the house they fly off without a single sound of protest.
Some years ago we visited the island camp of a distant cousin in Canada. He would walk outside his cabin, call out to "John Crow" and a crow would come in to be fed. He swore that it was always the same crow among the many in the area. At the time I was dubious- and probably very wrong!
|Scary mask? Not to a crow.|
A newer study recently reported in livescience.com extended their findings. Over five years the recognition and subsequent mobbing of a mask wearing researcher has spread to the surrounding area. Not only do the crows remember but they appear to be able to transmit this information to their young! "Even after going for a year without seeing the threatening human, the crows would scold the person on sight, cackling, swooping and dive-bombing in mobs of 30 or more."
Another report from South Korea in April of this year suggests that a related species, the magpie, also was able to distinguish an individual researcher. In this case the researcher was climbing trees to study the magpie nests. The bird would subsequently attack him regardless of what he was wearing. Another volunteer wearing the researchers clothes passed unnoticed as did the other 20,000 individuals on the campus.
There is increasing evidence that urban wildlife has grown accustomed to humans and are losing their fear of us. Our Springfield neighbor will walk into her garden to drive the browsing deer down the block, only to have them follow her back down the street as she returns home. In the case of civilized wildlife, it is becoming clear that familiarity may breed content rather than contempt.