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Crow Funeral - with Tony Angell

more complicated than just paying homage...

Tony Angell, along with Professor John Marzluff of the University of Washington, wrote the book, Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans. Tony says, "A crow 'funeral' is where the deceased bird is surrounded by members of the same species, in significant numbers." Crows descend from the trees, and they walk around the bird on the ground. And then they fly off. It's very likely that the crows are learning from this experience. Is there danger here? What does the death of this particular crow mean to the social structure of that community of crows? It seems to be a little more complicated than just paying homage.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Crow Funeral – Featuring Tony Angell

Interviewed by Chris Peterson

This is BirdNote! [Calls of a single crow]

Do crows have funerals? We asked author Tony Angell, who with Professor John Marzluff of the University of Washington, wrote the book Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like HumansHere’s Tony:

A crow … “funeral” is… in general, where the deceased bird is surrounded by members of the same species, in significant numbers…

At a crossroads, I watched… A crow had been hit by a car, laid to rest there on one side of the street…Crows descended from the trees, probably a hundred crows… In groups of maybe eight, ten, twelve, they would walk around that individual that was on the ground. And then they would fly off…. and over a fifteen, twenty-minute period, eventually all the crows flew off, leaving that corpse of the crow in the road. [Calls of a single crow at a distance]

Well what’s going on here seems to be a little more complicated than just paying homage. It’s very likely that the crows are learning from this experience. Is there danger here? Is there territory now opened up with the death of this crow? Is there a mate available, where before, there wasn’t? So all kinds of things are learned.

For more to the story of corvid intelligence…begin at birdnote.org.

###

Bird sounds are provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.A. Keller. #105353
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org  February 2015  Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#      angelltAMCR-01-2013-02-19 angelltAMCR-01 

Gifts of the Crow by John Marzluff, Ph.D. and Tony Angell, Free Press a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. 2012.
(Interview conducted June 28, 2012)

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