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Hello, Macaw - With Tony Angell

Artist and naturalist, Tony Angell, describes his communication with Macaw, a raven that came into his life and home. "I would say, 'Hello, Macaw,' and his communication to me was often to lean over for preening. Eventually, the arrangement became so routine to Macaw that something had gone on in his memory to refine my remarks to where he used my greeting to him - 'Hello, Macaw' - as a greeting to me. He was imitating me, but he used that term in the right context."
There's more to the story of corvid intelligence in Tony's book – co-authored with John Marzluff - Gifts of the Crow.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

“Hello, Macaw” - Featuring Tony Angell

Interviewed by Chris Peterson

    This is BirdNote!
    [Calls and “conversations” of Common Ravens]
    Author and artist, Tony Angell, and University of Washington professor John Marzluff, have been thinking a lot about how “…perception, emotion, and thought allow smart birds to behave like humans.”1 Gifted with large brains relative to the size of their bodies, crows and ravens display an admirable intelligence.
    Here Tony describes his communication with Macaw, a raven that came into his life and home.
“When I would see him in the morning I would often say, “Hello, Macaw.” And his communication to me, or his “language” to me, was often to… lean over for preening… And I would scratch the back of his head, and he’d hop on my arm and out we’d go for a morning of flying around – not me but the raven! … Eventually…the arrangement became so routine to Macaw that something had gone on in his memory to refine my remarks to where he used my greeting to him (“Hello Macaw”) as a greeting back to me.

You might say that he was imitating me, but also you had to say that he used that term in the right context. Every morning, as a greeting, I would say “Hello Macaw” and he had refined it so well that it sounded just like me, “Hello Macaw” back. And one or two back and forths… and out we’d go.

[And that was a very touching kind of moment of communication between myself and a non-human species.] And we remained close for about two years before he finally ventured out on his own and became a raven full time.”

    There’s much more to the story of corvid intelligence in Tony and John’s book, Gifts of the Crow. Begin at our website, birdnote.org.
                                                                               ###
Sounds and calls of Common Raven provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.   Clucking calls 50002 recorded by L.J. Peyton; flight calls and wing beats 62394 by W.H. Gunn.
Angell interview conducted at Kessler studios 6-28-2012.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org     September 2012   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# angelltCORA-02-2012-09-11         angelltCORA-02        

1 Gifts of the Crow by John Marzluff, Ph.D. and Tony Angell, Free Press a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. 2012.

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