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Something to crow about
July 16, 2013 8:31 PM   Subscribe


 
Corvids are pretty cool.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:35 PM on July 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


I was really worried about her fingers- gardening gloves wouldn't have kept them safe if the bird got startled. What a brave lady- and bird.
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:37 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why would the raven have died if the quills had remained? Infection?
posted by invitapriore at 8:39 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the shit that I dream of. Sometimes a few of them will hang out in the trees next to my house and I'll get all excited and go outside and try to befriend them with food but they always fly away...
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:39 PM on July 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


The synopsis is like something out of mythology.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:40 PM on July 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


Just awesome.
posted by allthinky at 8:41 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is amazing, but porcupines don't go around 'attacking' ravens, or dogs or anybody. When you mess with a porcupine, you get the quills (passively; they don't fire them like Patriot missiles as some people seem to believe).
posted by Flashman at 8:42 PM on July 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


wow. amazing how they seem to recognize our sentience.
posted by dazed_one at 8:43 PM on July 16, 2013 [26 favorites]


And another iPhone user can't understand how not to film videos. You have a device that captures HD video and you hold it the wrong way so we get a tiny, shitty vertical image.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:45 PM on July 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


Maybe I missed something, how was the bird "clearly reaching out to Cleary for help?" I like the idea, and I know they're really smart, but I'm not convinced that statement is supported here.
posted by juliapangolin at 8:45 PM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Everybody's all into dolphins and elephants, but I really think ravens and octopi (and primates, of course) are the best arguments for us not being the only highly intelligent life on the planet. Plus, come on, how can you not love ravens? They're so full of personality.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:46 PM on July 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


how was the bird "clearly reaching out to Cleary for help?"

Because the bird stuck around, in very, very close proximity to this human, and allowed her to remove the quills. That'd be my guess, anyway.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:47 PM on July 16, 2013 [23 favorites]


That's a big scary fuckin bird.
posted by goethean at 8:47 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I love ravens. I kind of agree with juliapangolin, though - it's not clear that the raven was "asking" for help - just that s/he was willing to tolerate the human activity. There might be more to the story though. IN any case, when humans get their act together and act helpful to the rest of beingness for a change, it always makes me feel a little better.
posted by Miko at 8:48 PM on July 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Are you taping this?"

"No, Dad, tape hasn't been used to record video for at least ten years now."
posted by indubitable at 8:48 PM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]




And another iPhone user can't understand how not to film videos. You have a device that captures HD video and you hold it the wrong way so we get a tiny, shitty vertical image.

Yeah, maybe the multi-billion dollar technology company that's famous for intuitive, user-friendly interfaces could get on that!
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:50 PM on July 16, 2013 [42 favorites]


it's not clear that the raven was "asking" for help - just that s/he was willing to tolerate the human activity

Ravens don't typically have a very high tolerance for humans -- they're a lot more wary than city-friendly crows, for example. I've been around highly habituated ravens that expected food handouts and even they didn't let me approach closer than 5 or 6 feet.
posted by junco at 8:52 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


And another iPhone user can't understand how not to film videos. You have a device that captures HD video and you hold it the wrong way so we get a tiny, shitty vertical image.

"Everything is amazing and nobody is happy".
posted by KokuRyu at 8:55 PM on July 16, 2013 [107 favorites]


Nevermore shall I fuck with porcupines
posted by not_on_display at 8:58 PM on July 16, 2013 [39 favorites]


Someone in the comments for this article speculated the raven had attempted to eat a roadkill porcupine, which seems plausible given the preponderance of such flattened beasts.

(Baby raven thought process: "I am hungry but also crappy at hunting my own food. What should I do? Oh wait, there's something bloody and delicious, and it's just lying there on the road, ready for me to eat! YUM YUM OH OW NO NO NO")
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:00 PM on July 16, 2013 [29 favorites]


[I agree it's annoying, but let's curtail the phone camera discussion at this point?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:03 PM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


That's really astonishing. Love them corvids. Kind of hate how often they are used as Evil Harbingers in stories, but carrion eaters get a bad rap.
posted by emjaybee at 9:08 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ravens are very clever creatures, I have no problem at all with the idea that Wilfred was asking for help.
posted by MissySedai at 9:17 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Love the corvid, and this was neat to see, but I think that the interpretation of the crow's thoughts/motivation by the news goes a bit far toward anthropomorphizing.
posted by desuetude at 9:20 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


invitapriore: Why would the raven have died if the quills had remained? Infection?

That would be my guess. Are birds really susceptible to abscesses, I wonder?

I find ravens charming and amazing in their intelligence. This is my favourite raven video: Ravenmania: Nevermore!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:21 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's funny that carrion eaters get a bad rap, since most omnivorous humans technically fit that description. Why, just now I ate some liver pate from an animal that has been dead for god knows how long.
posted by windykites at 9:22 PM on July 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


I can confirm that the raven was indeed asking for help. It had called me, first, but I was way off in Toronto. I texted him directions to Gertie's place. The fucker didn't text back so I wasn't sure if he'd made it or not. Thanks for the post. I was so worried!
posted by dobbs at 9:22 PM on July 16, 2013 [49 favorites]


One of the things I noticed was how close the dog was to the raven (you can see it intermittently at the bottom of the shot at about 1:44-1:48). That was a dangerous position for the bird and it had to know it.
posted by immlass at 9:23 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Porcupine quills are dangerous for both infection and that fact that they are barbed in such a way that they slowly ratchet themselves inward. I have heard of dogs killed by porcupine quills that slowly worked their way to the heart, ala Tony Starks shrapnel.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:29 PM on July 16, 2013


Ravens are also not known for staying around when someone is hurting them. I really don't think think there's any way to interpret that except that the raven had made the cognitive leap that the bursts of pain were worth it for the long term relief.
posted by tavella at 9:30 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


That is one smart bird. "This calls for hands. Shit. Only one species has those clever fuckers. Guess I know where I'm going next."
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:30 PM on July 16, 2013 [53 favorites]


Finally ravens admit human supremacy
posted by cman at 9:31 PM on July 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


The more I think about it the more tripped out I get. Because not only did the raven have to realize that this called for dexterity -- which it might have found in another corvid, it's certainly not beyond another raven's physical capability to pull a quill -- but also for the understanding that a human would do this. And the ability to model the behavior of other creatures beyond the "is it going to try to run/eat me?" level is some very sophisticated cognition right there.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:34 PM on July 16, 2013 [48 favorites]


Yeah, while saying something is "asking for help" is applying human concepts to wild animals in a way that is problematic, how else can you interpret a raven hanging around so many obvious sources of danger when it isn't disabled, and letting a human pull the quills out of its face, and stroke it, when even the least human-averse wild birds won't allow humans to touch them at all except in order to receive food (and even among trusting species it takes a while)?

One of the things I noticed was how close the dog was to the raven (you can see it intermittently at the bottom of the shot at about 1:44-1:48). That was a dangerous position for the bird and it had to know it.

Yeah, it checks the dog out a couple of times to make sure it's not up to anything.
posted by junco at 9:37 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


"wow. amazing how they seem to recognize our sentience," quoth the raven.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:37 PM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Finally ravens admit human supremacy
posted by cman at 9:31 PM on July 16
[+] [!]


Raccoon was busy.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:43 PM on July 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


A few years ago, a squirrel ran up to my dad when he was sweeping the driveway; it ran around him a few times, tugged on his pants, circled him two more times, tugged, then started to circle and fell over dead.
My dad picked it up and made sure it was dead, then buried it. I always wished I knew the whole story. Was it choking on something and wanted my dad to help? Was it in heart-failure? We'll never know, but it definitely unsettled my dad. He asked me to finish sweeping the driveway.
posted by whatgorilla at 9:44 PM on July 16, 2013 [39 favorites]


A number of years back, I heard my dad calling for me outside. When I came out, there was a crow standing beside him on the back porch. While we were trying to figure out what it wanted, I guess it thought we weren't paying it enough attention, so it started to strip the leaves off a potted plant. We were like "No! Stop, crow!" which satisfied it. It then hopped off the porch and walked (in that peculiar hopping way birds have) over to the hose. Then it pecked the end, and looked up at us. I started a trickle of water, and it drank from the end for a minute or so. Then it flew away.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:45 PM on July 16, 2013 [125 favorites]


Ravens (and almost all birds) freak me out. However, kuddos to this one for dealing with pain and accepting help. Horse and dog real happy it was not them. The two of them must have stuck around for the schadenfreude.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:45 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why would the raven have died if the quills had remained? Infection?

No, rejection.
posted by Renoroc at 9:45 PM on July 16, 2013


wow. amazing how they seem to recognize our sentience.

wow. amazing how they seem to recognize our sentience. opposable thumbs.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:52 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd just like to congratulate that dog on being all "whatevs" about the raven and on not sniffing around after the stuff the lady keeps dropping in case it's food, getting the quills in its own face.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:56 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think she was dropping the quills. Someone off camera asked, "Are you keeping it?" after she pulled out the first quill. She replied either "yes" or "of course."
posted by JujuB at 10:03 PM on July 16, 2013


I love ravens, but I don't know that I'd be brave enough to perform an operation like that wearing just gardening gloves. That is a big beak Wilfred has there.
posted by winna at 10:10 PM on July 16, 2013


George_Spiggott: "The more I think about it the more tripped out I get. Because not only did the raven have to realize that this called for dexterity -- which it might have found in another corvid, it's certainly not beyond another raven's physical capability to pull a quill -- but also for the understanding that a human would do this. And the ability to model the behavior of other creatures beyond the "is it going to try to run/eat me?" level is some very sophisticated cognition right there."

Corvids have been proven to have theory of mind - the ability to model, in their minds, other minds ...

But, wow, what a bird!
posted by stratastar at 10:57 PM on July 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


From Bklyn: "Finally ravens admit human supremacy
posted by cman at 9:31 PM on July 16
[+] [!]

Raccoon was busy.
"
----------------------

"Raykins! ... That's what those furry little bitches are that are fuckin' me over... raykins..."

Bonus: There's a crow in the clip too!
posted by symbioid at 11:05 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


@KokuRyu "Everything is amazing and nobody is happy". Maybe the post the day/week/month. Thanks for the perspective.
posted by rmhsinc at 11:16 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have made friends with two Eurasian magpies (pica pica, or Eckster in the local tongue). I've been feeding Dexter the Eckster and his mate, Penelope (because, why not?) one peanut each most mornings for six months. Our garden is definitely their territory, and they nest in tree in the adjacent garden. They perch and watch Mrs Primate or me in the garden very often, as if we are moderately entertaining or something.

They recognize me and trust me, to an extent, but the closest they will let me come (peanut in hand) is about 2m, and that's two mostly vertical meters. So this raven sitting still for someone it didn't "know" it fairly amazing.

And my opinion is it's absolutely ok to anthropomorphize corvids, because in my brief experience, they corvidomorphize us!
posted by digitalprimate at 11:37 PM on July 16, 2013 [27 favorites]


...how else can you interpret a raven hanging around so many obvious sources of danger when it isn't disabled, and letting a human pull the quills out of its face, and stroke it..

Assuming it was bold enough to interact with a porcupine and get stuck in the face I'm not seeing how crazy it is to have a similar interaction with humans. I have hiked and backpacked all over the west and been this close to wild corvids many times...granted I wasn't touching them or pulling needles out of their faces...but put me in the camp of people who feel we might be projecting a bit in this instance.
posted by jnnla at 11:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ravens! Canadians! I love everything about this post.
posted by Catch at 12:00 AM on July 17, 2013


TED has a fun talk about the intelligence of crows (they're pretty smart). Sure, crows and ravens are different (and I really ain't sure what the difference is), but at the very least, I know birds can be pretty dang crafty.
posted by mapinduzi at 12:12 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why is a this raven like a writing desk?

They both have sharp quills and neither has hands.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:48 AM on July 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


"Yay Mom" indeed.
posted by rahnefan at 1:03 AM on July 17, 2013




Ravens and crows are indeed very smart. That being said, it was at the age where it was young enough to not have any fear, and may have been looking for a handout. I don't want to say that situation is possible (there is a dolphin video that clearly presents itself to have a hook removed. Since the human wasn't being mobbed or screamed at, which makes my won't if it lost its famy
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:58 AM on July 17, 2013


"...but put me in the camp of people who feel we might be projecting a bit in this instance."

No offense intended to your own experience of corvids in the wild, but have you ever seen what they do when they are actually threatened or want to be threatening?

I've seen four Eurasian magpies coordinate then sneak attack a very large pigeon that got too close too one of the couple's nests, and they stripped that pigeon of a good quarter of it's feathers in an lightening fast attack that lasted all of 3 seconds and nearly killed the pigeon.

I have seen a Eurasian magpie attack a raven twice its size one-on-one in Denmark, and I have seen them attack - not just harass - full grown seagulls in my own backyard twice (the seagulls don't come here anymore).

So I think it's fairly logical to deduce that the corvid in the video felt zero threats and moreover probably knew exactly what it was doing.
posted by digitalprimate at 2:08 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Are you taping this?"

"No, Dad, tape hasn't been used to record video for at least ten years now."


My grandmother still sometimes refers to her refrigerator as the "icebox." You gotta cut us geezers some slack. Things was different back in "our day."
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:12 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


how can you not love ravens?


Easy. Put "Baltimore" in front.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 2:40 AM on July 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


This is amazing, but porcupines don't go around 'attacking' ravens, or dogs or anybody.

This is what the porcupines want you to believe. In reality, there is nothing a porcupine likes better than getting all liquored up n fermented berries then running around climbing trees and sticking quills in unsuspecting ravens. That raven was just minding his own business, I will bet.

I admit that I am in the pay of Big Raven.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:49 AM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


That's so not Raven.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:13 AM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


We have tons of crows around our house. I can hear them right now doing their morning calling. They know when we throw out an apple core, and they pick up the corpses the cats leave around. Their screams get a little annoying sometimes, but they're fantastic birds, I love watching them.
A few years ago, one of them started hanging around the yard while we'd be sitting out on the front steps, just wandering all around us. Occasionally it would jump on a lower step, cock its head, and just eye us while we talked at it. It was very bold; we thought we'd befriend it, maybe give it corn curls or something, we thought we'd become its buddy. But after a couple of days, one morning one of the cats couldn't take it anymore and jumped at it; we had to get all big and yelly to stop the cat, and the crow decided at that point it was through with us. So now they're all around, but they never get that close anymore. I'm still kind of bummed about it.
posted by Red Loop at 3:34 AM on July 17, 2013


The synopsis is like something out of mythology.

The Man and the Ravens - Anishinabe, as told by Charles P. Whitedog, Ojibway:
There once was a man that enjoyed watching the black ravens fly around, play, squawk, and chatter. He enjoyed them so much he would climb trees just to be closer to them. For many months the ravens ignored the man, but after a while, one of the ravens flew from a nearby tree and landed directly next to the man.

In utter amazement, the bird spoke to the man and asked, "You have been watching us for a long time. You have tried to get close to us. Why do you do this?"

The man replied, "I mean no harm. I have become enchanted with you and all your relatives. I enjoy the play, the squawking, and I wish I could learn your language so I could understand more about you."

Then the raven responded, "We are honored that you want to know us, as long as you do not cause harm, we will teach you our language."

For many months the ravens taught the man all about the language and how the ravens lived from day to day. The man became so educated that he knew everything there was to know about the ravens. Many of the ravens saw the man and accepted him as a friend.

One day, an older raven was flying far over the man, dropped a walnut perfectly on the man's head. It was done on purpose and all the ravens almost fell off their branches laughing so hard the way they do. One raven was flying and was laughing so hard he had to crash land right in front of the man.

The man was feeling bad and was hurt by being made fun of, so he asked the raven in front of him, "Why are you all picking on me."

The raven stopped laughing and became very serious. "We thought you understood us, but apparently you don't. If you did you would know that we are not mocking you... well maybe a bit, but it is done in our way of having fun. We are 'playing' with you and that is all. It is not to be taken seriously. You should know us better."

The man took sometime to understand this and over time a few more practical jokes were played on the man and he in turn pulled a few "good ones" on the birds. A good time was had by all and the man became even closer to the Ravens.

continued...
posted by fraula at 4:03 AM on July 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


I'm not one of these "we must have The Ultimate Evidence Beyond That We Require For Normal Hypotheses" anti-intelligent animals people, but...I'm not seeing it here. Wild animal is injured and disoriented/unable to escape, which has the side effect of allowing a human to get close enough to help it.
posted by DU at 4:08 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is much more likely to be an animal acting unusually docile because it's in pain than some kind of special cognitive determining of a need for hands of whatever. Plus it's a fledgeling, which are less easily scared off anyway.
posted by shelleycat at 4:10 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Because Poe wrote on both!
posted by windykites at 4:14 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Anishinabe “The Man and the Ravens” story linked above is on a site that does not appear to be well done, and is not well sourced. I did some googling and found that text repeated on many websites, supposedly told by a “Charles P. Whitedog”, but I think I have found the source page, or at least a copy with more information from the author, Charles Phillip White. (There is even an e-mail address for him there.) It is dated 1995 and he specifically says “...I have created this story of ‘The Man and the Ravens.’” — in other words, a modern creation, not a story passed down through generations.

(Sorry, I fact-check stuff like this as part of my job.)
posted by D.C. at 4:27 AM on July 17, 2013 [25 favorites]


My first exposure to the intelligence of corvids was through the chapter on jackdaws in the Konrad Lorenz book King Solomon's Ring. A highly recommended read...
posted by jim in austin at 5:19 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


My dad and I were working in the yard one day when he had to rescue a chipmunk from the netting that was doing nothing to keep birds away from our blueberry bushes. From that experience I would suggest to you the first step in good human/ wildlife interactions is a thick pair of gloves. My dad's were leather which is possibly why the chipmunk was less than gracious once freed.
posted by yerfatma at 5:45 AM on July 17, 2013


OK, swear I will get down off of my non-degreed in this area soap box, but...

Wild animal is injured and disoriented/unable to escape, which has the side effect of allowing a human to get close enough to help it.

And

This is much more likely to be an animal acting unusually docile because it's in pain....

That is not at all how wounded animals, even juveniles react when injured or in pain. In fact, they generally hide and if that doesn't work, get very bitey.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the magpies want their afternoon tea now....
posted by digitalprimate at 6:37 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Most unsettling thing about ravens that I have learned: if you and they live in a remote area with other predators, and you are not willing to provide food, it is within their conceptual grasp to reclassify you as food.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:45 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is not at all how wounded animals, even juveniles react when injured or in pain.

Well clearly, since they rarely show up to be doctored. But neither do they show up to be doctored because they are so intelligent and recognize our healing hands.

The point is, were dealing with an extremely odd behavior. And like I said before, I'm willing to call an animal intelligent if it shows some signs, but all I see here is a bird sitting on a fence.
posted by DU at 6:57 AM on July 17, 2013


I think wild animals have a pretty good ability to not freak out too much if they realize they are being helped. A few years ago, we spotted a robin that was lying rather peculiar-like on the ground. Upon closer inspection, we discovered his ankle was tangled up in exposed sod netting. I put on leather gloves and gently picked up the robin, who was not very happy about being picked up by one of those featherless giants, and with my wife's help, cut the bird free. Except for a few half hearted attempts to peck or what might be called "bite," the bird remained pretty composed up to the moment when I opened my hands to let him fly away.

Not too long ago, a falcon(hawk?) managed to fly through the foot and a half wide space between the screen door and the rest of the porch at my parents' house. My dad threw a towel around it and grabbed it, at which point the bird kind of just chilled out while he carried it back to the outside for release. Yah, got a photo of that one!

Same thing when a humming bird got confused and trapped inside a garage. I managed to get it to land on the end of a broom, where once it had landed, it remained for the walk of about 15 feet to the outside where it zoomed off.

Okay, it's also entirely possible that these birds all had exceeded their freak out point and had fallen into the ludicrous too damn tired / freaked out to do anything stage, too.
posted by Atreides at 7:02 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, I thought it was amazing. What a cool thing to witness.

And maybe I'm totally clueless about birds or something, but waiting for help and sticking around even when it hurt is way beyond what I'd have expected of the average feathery beastie.
posted by greenish at 7:17 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pretty freakish video. Leaves me wondering: could this have been a pet raven?

See, one day long ago I was walking down the street eating a pastry and I saw a crow sitting atop a telephone pole, watching me. I threw a piece of my food on the ground, and the crow flew down and ate it. I kept on throwing bits closer and closer until he actually took a bite of pastry from my hand. I was feeling like St. Francis, until the next day, when I read a letter in the small town paper asking if anyone had seen their pet crow, which had apparently flown the coop looking for a mate.

Just a guess, because of the rarity of wild animals tolerating humans like this. However, I've seen similar videos of cetaceans being rid of unwanted clinging things by humans, but, then, cetaceans are a hell of a lot more comfortable around humans than are ravens.

_________

OK, I just Googled raven pet and saw that it is pretty hard to keep a raven for a pet, plus it's illegal in the USA. And then this SLYT (boring after ten seconds): How to Pet a Wild Raven.

So I take back my original hypothesis...although I think the St. Francis Phenomenon should be an official moniker for that lovely state of communion with presumably wild animals. Like the time I cupped my hand over a rock and the lizard climbed under my hand for shade...
posted by kozad at 7:58 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looks like a tail-pulling incident gone wrong.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:26 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well I think what's absolutely clear about this is that we as a species are meant to learn how to care for, heal and function in harmony within ourselves and all other beings, eventually fulfilling our destiny of developing the ability to consume energy directly from earth/water/sun, ending the cycle of violence between species and allowing all beings to live long healthy and interconnecting lives with enjoyment and happiness, and ultimately giving the same power to all other species allowing all beings to experience intelligent awareness and empathy for each other.

If we're looking for the clear conclusion one can extrapolate from this video. I guess it's POSSIBLE that could be my carebear complex talking....maybe.
posted by xarnop at 8:44 AM on July 17, 2013


So the Carebear Stare is functionally the same as inhaling a couple good lungfuls of some Northern Cali dank?

Actually, I'm OK with that.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:48 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


s pretty hard to keep a raven for a pet, plus it's illegal in the USA.

Is this true for crows as well? I ask because recently I saw a flyer about baby crows for sale. I was unsure myself but forgot to check into it. Admittedly, my town is weird, but I thought it was an extra level of sketch.
posted by Miko at 8:54 AM on July 17, 2013


Oh, I suppose I should explain I am being silly by poking fun at my own silly desires for world harmony (which simultaneously are great desires if we could actually develop the abilities!). So I hear, if you have to explain it doesn't work. I did try. Humor is hard apparently.

Cool video.
posted by xarnop at 8:57 AM on July 17, 2013


That was me trying to jump on your bandwagon. Sorry if it came across as criticism.

Harmony at work!
posted by zombieflanders at 9:03 AM on July 17, 2013


Harmony and love! YAY!

I recently hung out with this Ibis and I feel like it was hanging out with me. I know rationally it came to eat the dead fish by my feet (long story) but I felt like we were having a moment, it just stood there and looked at me and hung out for a while. My ibis buddy.

Harmony among species! I mean, the poor fish, but... erm...
posted by xarnop at 9:15 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


A number of years back, I heard my dad calling for me outside. When I came out, there was a crow standing beside him on the back porch. While we were trying to figure out what it wanted, I guess it thought we weren't paying it enough attention, so it started to strip the leaves off a potted plant. We were like "No! Stop, crow!" which satisfied it. It then hopped off the porch and walked (in that peculiar hopping way birds have) over to the hose. Then it pecked the end, and looked up at us. I started a trickle of water, and it drank from the end for a minute or so. Then it flew away.
posted by Kevin Street


Best crow or raven story I've heard or read to date.

Based on my own experience with these guys, however, I might offer a slightly different interpretation of one thing: "I guess it thought we weren't paying it enough attention, so it started to strip the leaves off a potted plant. We were like 'No! Stop, crow!' which satisfied it."

'Nice plant you got here-- shame if all the leaves fell off some day' is how I'd have taken that.
posted by jamjam at 9:22 AM on July 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


I read the plant-stripping as "I need something. Come on, dumb humans! I need something to put in my mouth, kind of like this plant, but different. Wetter."
posted by Miko at 9:47 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I need something. Come on, dumb humans! I need something to put in my mouth, kind of like this plant, but different. Wetter."

He was looking to wet his beak? Ravens are so gangster.
posted by cyberscythe at 10:06 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wild animals that are like, "Dude, I'm in a pickle, so for the duration of you helping me out, we're totally cool," give me those St. Francis moments that kozad named. Best one I've had so far is when we accidentally trapped a juvenile skunk in a no-kill cage we'd set out for a stray kitten. I stood back as my dad bravely went down to the cage and propped the door open. The little ball of black and white fur cracked an eye open during his afternoon nap, looked at my dad (who of course froze thinking he was about to be blinded), yawned hugely, shook its tail out a little bit, and promptly went back to sleep. If you have ever been in proximity to a baby skunk, you will understand how adorable this was.

The copperhead I helped cut out of some anti-bird garden netting a few years later, however, was less charitable. The woman I was helping at the time, who has balls so big she needs a wheelbarrow, waved a glove in its face until it struck and she could grab it by the head. In case you were ever wondering, copperhead venom is a deep rust-orange color when it rolls off a leather glove in horrifying streams.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:25 AM on July 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


I know a guy who keeps a duck for a pet. The animal was orphaned and "imprinted" on him, and they've been together ever since.

The man works as a caretaker for a hotel, and lives in a little two-room building on the property, next to the duck pond. Every night he drinks a beer and watches television with the duck. He has to lay out old towels all over his living area. He then sits on the floor, leaning against the couch, and calls the duck inside. The duck hops up on his chest and nestles under the crook of an arm.

The duck then wags its tail-feathers and takes a giant shit. The man then replaces the towel with a clean one, and drinks some more beer.

I had never realized just how dumb ducks are.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:33 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Atreides: "Same thing when a humming bird got confused and trapped inside a garage. I managed to get it to land on the end of a broom, where once it had landed, it remained for the walk of about 15 feet to the outside where it zoomed off.

Okay, it's also entirely possible that these birds all had exceeded their freak out point and had fallen into the ludicrous too damn tired / freaked out to do anything stage, too.
"

IIRC that's actually pretty common with hummingbirds. When they get confused and trapped they exhaust their energy FAST and become too helpless to even struggle.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:33 AM on July 17, 2013


Looks like this raven should have stuck to corn.
posted by dhens at 11:24 AM on July 17, 2013


(^^^ spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones in previous link)
posted by dhens at 11:31 AM on July 17, 2013


We had a starling caught in our dryer vent pipe; the vent is high up the side of the house (about 30 feet) and it had gone in to build a nest and slid down the pipe until it couldn't get back out due to the grade. It took a while for me to figure out what the HELL was making all that racket in my walls, and then a corresponding while to figure out what the HELL I was going to do about it. I pulled the vent tubing off and sat; eventually the starling poked its head out, but wouldn't let me grab it, or come out into the transparent fabric I hooked over the opening in an attempt to get the damn thing out. Eventually I pulled everything I could out of the laundry room (to avoid bird poop spatter as it flew around) and waited until I heard it flying around the laundry room. I slid in with a sheet, threw the sheet over the bird, and carefully took it outside to release. It remained calm while in the sheet, and flew away like nothing had happened. Does that mean the starling was thinking, "Oh, she's helping me escape? Nice human!" I have no idea. Having said that, it certainly seems like the raven in the video realized on some level that it was being assisted and sat for it, but I don't know. I think we simultaneously underestimate the intelligence of animals and overestimate their similarity to us.
posted by jennaratrix at 11:39 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this true for crows as well? I ask because recently I saw a flyer about baby crows for sale. I was unsure myself but forgot to check into it. Admittedly, my town is weird, but I thought it was an extra level of sketch.

Looks like it, but it's hard to tell for certain because bird law in this country is not governed by reason.
posted by Copronymus at 1:31 PM on July 17, 2013


I'm more impressed that everyone here just knows and casually throws around "corvid" like it's the most common knowledge thing ever.
posted by averageamateur at 3:34 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just throw around "corvid" because I don't know what the difference is between crows and ravens, or if there is any difference at all, and so "corvid" seems a safe way to hedge my bets.
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:27 PM on July 17, 2013


Here's a true story I wrote a few years back about my Encounter With A Raven and How It Blew My Mind.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:08 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Stav, the raven was asking you for a god damn ride.

It saw you, it saw your bike, it saw how awesome it might be to fly on the ground, and it wanted a piece of the action.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:19 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems like every time you see someone handling a bird in a documentary, they are quite calm. I don't know if they have some sort of "if something is holding you down and not killing you, don't struggle or you will just hurt yourself" instinct or what. It's fascinating.

This, however, is remarkable. After each quill there is plenty of protesting, but he eventually turns his injured side back to allow another quill to be removed.
posted by chemoboy at 6:20 PM on July 17, 2013


Porcupine quills are dangerous for both infection and that fact that they are barbed in such a way that they slowly ratchet themselves inward. I have heard of dogs killed by porcupine quills that slowly worked their way to the heart, ala Tony Starks shrapnel.

I would have been super impressed with all the awesome raven and crow stories if I weren't cowering in terror about porcupines.
posted by jeather at 7:18 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


stratastar's right. There's evidence that corvids (ravens, crows, rooks, magpies, jays, etc.) understand delayed gratification, differences in knowledge states, cooperative problem-solving, and so on.
posted by halonine at 8:10 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Flashman: " but porcupines don't go around 'attacking' ravens, or dogs or anybody. "

I don't know about attacking, but I once had one try and climb me. I was cutting firewood and I'd seen it waddling along the creek next thing I know it was standing on my pant leg. With only minor injury to myself I was able to dislodge it and it shuffled back down the creek.

As for crows, when I was a kid I spotted some that would drop walnuts in front of moving cars and then eat the good bits when one was run over.
posted by the_artificer at 10:03 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not disputing corvid intelligence in general or in this specific situation, mind you. I'm doubting whether the news website interpreted the crow's thoughts correctly.
posted by desuetude at 11:02 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just throw around "corvid" because I don't know what the difference is between crows and ravens, or if there is any difference at all, and so "corvid" seems a safe way to hedge my bets.

Hmmm, here in British Columbia (the southern tip of Vancouver Island, to be precise), you would never, ever mistake a common crow (Corvus caurinus) for a raven (Corvus Corax).

Ravens are big animals and don't (at least around here) interact with humans at all. They also have a very distinctive call. I used to work in an office park situated in a forest that was part of a greenbelt extending to essentially wilderness areas to the north.

And so we would see a lot of ravens hanging around the treetops (there were also turkey vultures, Cooper's hawks, and American bald eagles). Ravens are very interesting and majestic creatures.

Crows, on the other hand, are everywhere. I like them, but, unlike ravens, they're considered to be nuisances.

Japan is home to a large breed of crow that is very social (like Corvus corax) and very large.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:15 PM on July 18, 2013


Yeah, I thought I didn't know the difference between ravens and crows until I saw a raven. Now I know the difference, which is that ravens are roughly equivalent in dimension to a 787.
posted by invitapriore at 1:29 PM on July 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


For one reason or another, I have a lot of experience with birds, captive and wild. As a kid, I often found and raised baby birds. As an adult, I still run across injured or abandoned birds and did a brief stint volunteering at a wildlife rescue. I can say with fair bit of certainty that birds don't struggle much when captured - some exceptions in big boned birds - I never really thought about why but I suspect it is because they have delicate bones, and breaking a wing or a leg is pretty much a death sentence. Now that I'm thinking of it, wild birds generally struggle less that pet birds, so there is probably a bit of fear that pays into it.

Fledglings, on the other hand, adopt a "freeze if there are predators about" stance because they're clumsy and can't fly yet (or can't fly well) . This is usually in combination with the parents acting to distract the predator. But you can usually walk right up to them and scoop them up with your hands even if they are capable of an ungraceful escape. Which is why so many healthy baby birds are unnecessarily "rescued" by well meaning humans.

Now, corvids are intelligent, but I doubt this one sought out help. That being said, it wouldn't surprise me if it recognized it was being helped once help was administered and just let the human finish the job. But it seems equally likely that
being a dumb baby, it did what it knew how to do, which was stay put. Equally likely was the wounds were infected and gone septic, leaving the bird too weak to do much.

I admire birds and their intelligence as much as the next person (maybe more so; I think about it a lot). And I think science is discovering more nonhuman intelligence than previously thought every day. That being said, anthropomorphizing is probably the best explanation here, and we're guilty of it because our intelligence has a gaping flaw. We have a biological imperative to try and guess the motivations of others. Necessary for communicating with others of our species, but it bleeds over to other animals, usually incorrectly.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:53 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Porcupine quills are naturally antiseptic; although they can do tissue and organ damage as they travel through the victim, they rarely fester. This is, no doubt, of survival value to the porcupines themselves as they do impale themselves and each other on occasion. Excellent swimmers, the air-filled quills help keep the porcupine afloat.
I saw a reference to a paper which disputed this a few years ago, but I wasn't able to find it when I searched just now, and that the quills are antiseptic still seems to be the prevailing view.

An article I read once said the antiseptic property actually made the quills more fearsome and dire, since festering would make them much easier to pull out.

The "anthropomorphizing" criticism always puzzles me a bit because human beings are animals, and everything that we do is something that an animal can do.

Also, exactly the same forces and influences which have molded us also produced the other animals, and I think that in any specific argument about whether animals can do something we do or not, the burden of proof therefore falls primarily upon the side which claims that they cannot.
posted by jamjam at 7:41 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I forgot about the calculus boars of Africa and the first otter on the moon. Silly me.

What is being suggested as intentional action is that a wild animal, essentially at the equivalent of the toddler stage of development, has the intelligence and experience to know that an alien species of animal, drastically different from itself, one there is a good chance it's never seen before due to its age, understands what hands are, AND figure out which one isn't going to smash it for fun?

I think your confusing my suggestion that this instance is anthropomorphizing with the idea that animals can't think or ration or experience emotion as a full stop statement. Science has mostly thrown out the idea of animals-as-machines and recognizes what you're trying to say. But that doesn't change the fact that humans are really shitty at attributing motivation in nonhuman animals.

One fantastic and simple example that comes to mind is our nearest cousins, chimps, "smile" when they are nervous or afraid. But you ask a human, and they'll tell you it's smiling. Hell, we have a hard enough time deciphering the motivations of our own species and it's required of us to survive as a social animal.

There are some amazing cross species interactions, ones that are undeniably driven by intent and/or intelligence. This, however, isn't one of them.

(But that's okay, I'm glad the little guy got help.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:51 PM on July 18, 2013


I feel I should update with this important correction, it wasn't an ibis at all, it was a great blue heron! Talk about totally different birds, yeesh.
posted by xarnop at 6:41 AM on July 22, 2013


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