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Truck-surfing raven
February 20, 2013 2:53 PM   Subscribe

While it's well known that dolphins will surf in the bow waves of ships, at least one wild raven has learned to 'surf' on the pressure wave in front of trucks (second video).

Bonus raven videos: pet raven brings coffee, catches treat midair in slow-motion
posted by Pyry (38 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Minus 5 points for lack of "Surfin' Bird". Still pretty neat, though.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:00 PM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's a diamond-seeking drone. This is how they pulled off that heist at the airport the other day.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:08 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hmm, I don't know about "surf the pressure wave", that would suggest the raven is hanging out directly in front of the grille, which it does not appear to be. It's probably taking advantage of the wind updraft as air is displaced by the front of the truck, sort of like riding a thermal.
posted by indubitable at 3:22 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this behavior truly unusual? Or just the duration of it?

It's happened to me twice, once with a seagull and once with a crow (or maybe a grackle? I dunno. Not a birder.) Neither encounter lasted more than a minute, though.

Birds are cool.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:25 PM on February 20, 2013


Time for more crow movies? Crows playing on a snowy car
posted by workerant at 3:25 PM on February 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm beginning to think that corvids remember the time when they were dinosaurs and ruled the planet and have decided that was pretty cool and are working on restoring the old order.

I hope I'm wrong.
posted by tommasz at 3:25 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe I'm anthropomorphizing, but its videos like that first raven one that really make me wonder if animals have that same sense of wonder and fun in the world as we do.
posted by i less than three nsima at 3:26 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know how ravens pack all those smarts in that tiny bird brain, but they be smart.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:32 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Corvids goddamn. Enough said.
posted by not_the_water at 3:32 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Birds are super smart and as far as I can tell corvids are pretty much near the top of bird intelligence.

Meanwhile, my cockatiel is smart enough to train dogs to do behaviors he finds amusing and he doesn't even have access to good dog treats -- just the seeds and fruits he doesn't like!
posted by Matt Oneiros at 3:36 PM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hawk Hill, where I spend a lot of hours counting and IDing migrating raptors, has its local ravens, and do they ever love to play in the updrafts. They swoop and do loop-de-loops and play something that looks an awful lot like tag. They chuckle and talk and wait for us to accidentally drop bits of food.
posted by rtha at 3:48 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


This could only be Canada.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:49 PM on February 20, 2013


Tis the wind and nothing more
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:50 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ravens and crows are quickly moving up my "favorite animal" list.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:53 PM on February 20, 2013


I love observing them here in Tokyo, where they reside in great number.

The linked video is wonderful. Thanks, Pyry!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:59 PM on February 20, 2013


I'm beginning to think that corvids remember the time when they were dinosaurs and ruled the planet and have decided that was pretty cool and are working on restoring the old order.

I hope I'm wrong.



I'm kind of ambivalent myself.
posted by edgeways at 4:15 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, on New Year's Day, I witnessed exactly the opposite of this bird's accomplishment. While driving from NYC to DC--and having just finished a conversation about turbulent flights we'd been on--a seagull flew low across I-95; too low. The passing cars beneath made it lose lift, and we watched it suspended in the air for a split second, and fall, while flapping, right into our windshield. I turned to see it land on the highway behind us, and the front wheel of a following rig ended the ordeal apace.
posted by oneironaut at 4:48 PM on February 20, 2013


Need to watch the rest of this guy's videos. Driving double trailer semi tractors in Canada's Northwest Territories. Holy Crap!
posted by jgaiser at 4:52 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Need to watch the rest of this guy's videos. Driving double trailer semi tractors in Canada's Northwest Territories. Holy Crap!

There's a reality show all about just that.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:59 PM on February 20, 2013


Everything I've heard anecdotally indicates that ravens in the northwest territories are more gregarious towards humans than their pacific northwest cousins. Here on Salt Spring Island, ravens are abundant but catching more than a fleeting glimpse is pretty rare. That said, I caught a glimpse of one chiselling off a huge chunk of my suet block last week.
posted by Lorin at 5:01 PM on February 20, 2013


By which I mean, yes I hear them and see them flying overhead regularly, but spotting one hanging out at the side of the road or anywhere but on the edge of "town" is comparatively quite rare.
posted by Lorin at 5:04 PM on February 20, 2013


rtha, by Hawk Hill do you mean the park near Taraval and 19th?

If so, when is a good time to go see some raptors?
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 5:28 PM on February 20, 2013


Man, that made me miss living in Yellowknife.

Everyone in the NWT has raven stories.

The town golf course (nine holes in spruce and sand -- its been a while since I've lived there, but at the time the 'greens' were tar poured onto the sand to make it a bit firmer, I expect they have astroturf now) had special house rules due to the ravens. They'd regularly wait in the trees, steal the balls and either take them right away or drop them somewhere far from where they had landed, but close enough to taunt and annoy the golfers. Pretty sure they loved watching the funny hairless apes lose it, and that's why they did it.

Lots of outdoor dogs, and people quickly learned how well ravens would collaborate to steal it: one raven hopping and sqwacking just out of the reach of a big chained up husky while another would be filling up out of the bowl. Then they'd switch.

Great mimics, too. I remember being woken up one of my first nights there. Hard enough to sleep what with the midnight light and the excitement of being 17 and having driven all the way from Quebec with a borrowed car to get a job and find adventure far from home. This giant raven was perched on the eavestrough above my window yelling "QUIET! QUIET! QUIET!". Bloody hell, bird, you're the one who has to be quiet. I was pretty sure he or she'd picked up the word from frustrated insomniacs yelling out of windows. I also became convinced that the bird got extra satisfaction, maybe not directly from the irony, but perhaps from the extra effect that word seemed to get out of her targets.

Smart birds, sure. But more than that, its hard not to believe that they have a sense of humour and mischief. And, they clearly play. They slide down snowbanks on their banks, hop back up and do it again and again. In groups, clucking and groiking and cawwing encouragement and raven laughter at each other.

My favorite bird, and after seven or so seasons up in the Arctic I felt I understood why so many native legends and myths feature them not only as tricksters, but as creators of the universe, or, at least, at the top of creation's pecking (heh) order.
posted by bumpkin at 6:05 PM on February 20, 2013 [19 favorites]


Speaking of dolphins: Dolphins Call Each Other By Name
posted by homunculus at 6:35 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Raven is my totem. I realized this when I traveled to the southwest. My wife said, "Look, the raven is following us", but I replied, "No, we are following him." I've repeated it ever since.

As bumpkin says, ravens are more than smart. They are clever birds. Thanks!
posted by grimjeer at 6:35 PM on February 20, 2013


rtha, by Hawk Hill do you mean the park near Taraval and 19th?

No, in Marin - it's a hill up above the Golden Gate Bridge. It's a fall migration site (the spring migration is too dispersed to warrant a formal hawkwatch), and peak migration is generally the last 10 days/week of September into the first week of October. More here!
posted by rtha at 6:41 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quoth the raven: Never move.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:12 PM on February 20, 2013


To quote HuronBob, "In Russia, the ravens snowboard."
posted by Lexica at 7:23 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Crows reason whether you're watching them or not.

“It is..... possible..... that the ability to reason about hidden causal agents is far more widespread in the animal kingdom than has been thought previously.”
posted by marvin at 7:26 PM on February 20, 2013


Meanwhile, my cockatiel is smart enough to train dogs to do behaviors he finds amusing

This wants elaboration.
posted by empath at 7:49 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clever raven: +1.
Late era Roy Orbison: +2.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:54 PM on February 20, 2013


Everyone in the NWT has raven stories.

Yep. My current favourite is from a few winters ago. I was walking along downtown and noticed a raven perched on a ledge overlooking the sidewalk. Just as someone was walking beneath, the raven kicked a mound of snow which fell and landed right on the guy's head.

It could have been coincidence, but it looked pretty damn deliberate.

And hilarious.
posted by ODiV at 11:30 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I lived in South Africa, I had swallows that appeared to be playing games. They seemed to like to tag a specific spot on my neighbors house, and an entire flock would hit the spot and circle away, one after another.

Animals play. There is no disputing that simple fact. This has always seemed to me to be an indication that they were more like us than we give them credit.
posted by Goofyy at 12:43 AM on February 21, 2013


PBS' "Nature" just rebroadcast "A Murder of Crows," wherein we see New Caledonian crows engaged in meta-tool use (crow needs and gets the shorter stick to get the longer stick to get the piece of meat in the plastic box), finding choice bits in people's garbage, and telling their young'uns to stay away from the bad masked dude in the courtyard (result of experiment where several biologists would wear masks to see if crows could recognize them repeatedly - answer: yes).

One of the scientists interviewed suggested that the life of a young crow (long period where they are required to do nothing but learn and observe) is extremely similar to that of humans. To which I started to wonder: WHAT IF THE CROWS WERE WATCHING US RAISE OUR YOUNG?

Obligatory: Ceiling Crow is watching you cogitate.
posted by Currer Belfry at 3:42 AM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is why I resolved to stop eating crow.

Plus, they had the funniest bit in The Passion.
posted by sonascope at 4:59 AM on February 21, 2013


Obviously the shoe shop intensifier ray has worked its magic on these, our predecessors.

One must wonder how close we, ourselves, are to the shoe event horizon.
posted by sonascope at 7:49 AM on February 21, 2013


Somewhere there is a www.CorVideo.com site that has a collection of raven-made films of folks driving trucks with a caption that says something like "these humans sit in this metal box and rattle this noisy belcher for hours on end. Could it be they are more intelligent and playful than they look?"
posted by chavenet at 9:54 AM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


empath: This wants elaboration.

It all started when my bird Silarius learned to whistle the pattern of the dog's name, not too hard for him since he's always been central to the activity of the household and dogs frequently need to be called by name.

During the workdays, their behaviors got more complicated. I can think of how it could've happened, but a month or two after Silarius learned the dogs name I caught him calling the dog who would then come over and look up at his cage expectantly. Silarius would then walk out to the edge of the shelf his cage was on, tilt his head to examine the dog and would then pick up a seed or chunk of papaya and throw it to the dog then re-position to watch with excitement as the dog ate the seed (cockatiels are great in part because they have a built in excitement meter on their heads). At first Silarius was kind of shy about it, but then he started doing it on a regular basis sometimes whistling and dancing when the dog'd take food from him.

Over time Silarius started withholding treats from the dog unless she would do her "dance" trick instead of just acknowledging him. This pretty much went on until that dog died and he hasn't lived with a dog since because I don't really like dogs and would rather let him have 24x7 free flight.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 4:36 PM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


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