Crowbox
August 23, 2018 4:45 AM   Subscribe

CROWBOX! How do you stop Crows just stealing all your sausages? Sell the food to them! The crowbox is an opensource vending machine for crows, exchanging found coins for food.
posted by Just this guy, y'know (103 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow that's so cool!!
posted by like_neon at 4:52 AM on August 23


"I've spent almost half of my life" assembling a personal army of highly-trained, fiercely-loyal corvids.

This is a super-neat thing that sounds like an April fool's prank. Which is pretty cool.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:08 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


Not really into CrowBox, I prefer the PlayRaven.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:11 AM on August 23 [45 favorites]


There goes my idea for Crowbox, which is a monthly subscription where a variety of sample-size crows are sent to you to try out.
posted by xingcat at 5:47 AM on August 23 [73 favorites]


Why not give them a drink instead? A crowbar, if you will.
posted by phooky at 5:47 AM on August 23 [46 favorites]


No Possible Way that Teaching Capitalism to Clever Birds Could Lead to Disastrous Unintended Consequences, Scientists Agree
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:52 AM on August 23 [137 favorites]


Very cool. Now that I've seen the video, the idea of harnessing the labor power of wildlife through behavioral engineering seems obvious, but I don't think I've ever encountered the idea before. Anyone have other examples?

Corvids are an obvious candidate because they're smart, plentiful, and able to manipulate small objects. What other species might be responsive to this kind of thing? Rats?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:53 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


Rats are used in Africa for landmine detection, though they aren't wild.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:56 AM on August 23 [6 favorites]


I want a trained murder of crows now. This looks awesome.
posted by Vatnesine at 5:58 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]


Anyone have other examples?

Pigeons Trained To Spot Cancer
posted by verstegan at 5:58 AM on August 23 [5 favorites]


Well, there's a pretty fine line between something like this and say, falconry or traditional cormorant fishing. All of which take advantage of different types of birds' different behavioral tendencies. Corvids love shiny things, after all.
posted by Mizu at 6:01 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


Awesome! Another technological innovation I can hack to improve my game as a suburban supervillain!
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:06 AM on August 23 [5 favorites]


Day 1: nothing

Day 2: a penny

Day 3: nothing

Day 4: two pennies

Day 5: a dime

Day 6: that coin from Game of Thrones that gets you into the House of Black and White so that you can become an awesome face-swapping assassin

Conclusion: great success
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:18 AM on August 23 [24 favorites]


But are they complying with Bird Tax Law?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:32 AM on August 23 [8 favorites]


There goes my idea for Crowbox, which is a monthly subscription where a variety of sample-size crows are sent to you to try out.

Still good, just call it Murderbox.
posted by rodlymight at 6:33 AM on August 23 [23 favorites]


He says he wants a bunch of people to get involved, but he's just putting the plans on the Internet and waiting for people to download them. If he really wants uptake, he should set out an open box with some Crowbox kits in it for people to take, and once people figure that out, set out a closed box with some quarters on the lid…
posted by adamrice at 6:44 AM on August 23 [66 favorites]


Still good, just call it Murderbox.

Surely a murder of crows is no more a structureless collection of crows than a crow is a structureless collection of organic particles.
posted by acb at 6:49 AM on August 23 [5 favorites]


No Possible Way that Teaching Capitalism to Clever Birds Could Lead to Disastrous Unintended Consequences, Scientists Agree

Yeah, for me, this brought to mind the bit of Indonesian folklore that claims Orangutans can actually talk, but are very careful not to do so around men for fear that they should be rounded up and put to work.

I'm not sure the crows will one day thank us for introducing them to capitalism.
posted by Naberius at 6:51 AM on August 23 [43 favorites]


We don't want their thanks. We just want their money.
posted by flabdablet at 6:56 AM on August 23 [10 favorites]


I'm actually thinking the crows will figure out a way to set up some sort of protection racket, to get money, to pay for peanuts.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:58 AM on August 23 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure the crows will one day thank us for introducing them to capitalism.

Eventually the crows will figure out that they should keep the coins for themselves, thus massing enough wealth to take over the whole thing, and we'll all be working for Big Crow before long.
posted by briank at 6:59 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


Who could have predicted that corvids were supremely adapted to corporate raiding?
posted by acb at 7:02 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


I hope this isn't too much of a derail, but it feels like the right place to ask: should I befriend crows in the cemetery near my work? See, there are crows that hang out in the big trees near my work, and there's a cemetery across the street, and I have a mild gothic streak that makes me think that wandering by every few days and leaving snacks for the crows is the best idea ever.

My grandfather had a pet raven or crow as a kid, and I figured befriending crows outside would be preferred to that.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:04 AM on August 23 [10 favorites]


While I appreciate (and am amazed by) the intelligence of corvids, this kinda degenerated in the end to "how can we get them to useful work for us (sorting capacitors?) in exchange for junk food". I like the stepped-conditioning approach and the project seems like there is great potential for something useful, but for now I'll just have to appreciate that it may get people interested in and engage with the other intelligent species that live all around us.
posted by achrise at 7:04 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


Dangit CheesesOfBrazil, I wanted to make that joke.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:04 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


ArgentCorvid

Apropos.
posted by zamboni at 7:21 AM on August 23


This reminded me of the dog that buys himself treats at a school store. With leaves.

I like both stories.
posted by bilabial at 7:22 AM on August 23 [17 favorites]


I don’t want them to work for me, I just want them to have a nice time. I say hi to all the crows around my neighborhood and they mostly just look at me funny or hop around.
posted by gucci mane at 7:24 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


I also say hi to the ravens on the walk to my desk every morning. There seems to be one perched magnificently on every building, so I call them things like the "King of B2", the "Empress of B3", the "Marchioness of B4" and so on.

I'd call them Hugin and Munin, but I wouldn't dare to presume.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:30 AM on August 23 [8 favorites]


"I've spent almost half of my life" assembling a personal army of highly-trained, fiercely-loyal corvids.

The rest of it was just wasted.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:32 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


Surely a murder of crows is no more a structureless collection of crows than a crow is a structureless collection of organic particles.

Look, it says here that a group of crows is called a murder, and it doesn’t say anything about how they come to be in said group. So if I stuff a bunch crows into a container, I say it’s murder in there! And not just because it’s going to be really hot in there, and maybe I forgot to make some holes in the lid.
posted by rodlymight at 7:32 AM on August 23 [6 favorites]


I've long dreamed of renting an AirBNB with a balcony or a rooftop patio near the trevi fountain in Rome and setting one (or more) of these up.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:36 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


that wandering by every few days and leaving snacks for the crows is the best idea ever.

People who think they are feeding birds and squirrels are so often feeding rats. And since rats reproduce faster when food is more plentiful, please don't.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:38 AM on August 23 [6 favorites]


Good point, sans-penguin. (Aw, rats.)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:44 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


Befriending crows is an excellent idea, but the right way to do that is to just listen, you know? Like, really get to know them, understand their problems.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:45 AM on August 23 [12 favorites]


Beware what you ask for, filthy light thief. True story follows, to the best of my memory:

When he was a kid, a friend of mine from Boise found a hurt baby raven and nursed it back to health. Or, probably it was his brother who found it and nursed it back to health. Anyway, the raven, or maybe it was a crow, took a liking to the brother, and followed him everywhere he went. The pair grew up. The brother got a motorcycle, a leather jacket, and in those years, wherever he went, on those long Idaho roads with the big sky above, a big black bird would be following not far behind.

Are you goth enough for that?
posted by brambleboy at 7:45 AM on August 23 [46 favorites]


Beverage retail concept: a drinking establishment where you leave payment in coins only on the counter and trained crows pick it up and deposit it in a cash register modelled on the Crowbox.

I’d call it...Crowbar.

Or Murderbar.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:46 AM on August 23 [5 favorites]


Not to abuse the edit window:

phooky: Why not give them a drink instead? A crowbar, if you will.

Clearly I’m late to the party.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:48 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


Just another scene for a murder.
posted by MrGuilt at 7:53 AM on August 23


"People who think they are feeding birds and squirrels are so often feeding rats. And since rats reproduce faster when food is more plentiful, please don't."

I'll feed the rats directly!! Only animals near my yard I want dead are squirrels. Rats are at least cute and don't act like unwanted tree lords.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:56 AM on August 23


Doesn't it seem like stage 4 should be to place some coins on the ground near the crowbox, to encourage scavenging for coins? and then move on to hoping this behavior sticks?
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:07 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]


The brother got a motorcycle, a leather jacket, and in those years, wherever he went, on those long Idaho roads with the big sky above, a big black bird would be following not far behind.

Hey, I’ve seen that film...
posted by mykescipark at 8:13 AM on August 23


I'm sure I've seen something about crows trained to pick up cigarette butts. I wonder if you could train them to pick up cigarette butts and wads of gum and drop them in the hair of the people who dropped them on the ground?
posted by pracowity at 8:13 AM on August 23 [13 favorites]


... we'll all be working for Big Crow before long.

At least they won't be able to fire us without caws.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:19 AM on August 23 [50 favorites]


Version for humans.
posted by Naberius at 8:20 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


While just leaving food around may end up feeding rats, you can quickly train crows (or jays) to collect food while you watch. In fact, they are likely to start coming to ask you for food. Unsalted peanuts in shell are a favorite for both, and easy to carry with you. Crows also love meat, but that's a little less portable.
posted by tavella at 8:32 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


I can recommend King Solomon's Ring to anyone interested in corvid (jackdaw) interaction with humans...
posted by jim in austin at 8:35 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


I'm sure I've seen something about crows trained to pick up cigarette butts.

Maybe this?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:45 AM on August 23


Beverage retail concept: a drinking establishment where you leave payment in coins only on the counter and trained crows pick it up and deposit it in a cash register modelled on the Crowbox.

I’d call it...Crowbar.

Or Murderbar.

--mandolin conspiracy

This brings up an important point. The original 'coins for food' crow experiments ran into the problem of there just not being that many loose coins around for the crows to find.

This is solved by mandolin conspiracy's idea of setting up a whole crow economy where they do tasks for money which they can take to the crowbox for food.
posted by eye of newt at 8:46 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


Crows also love meat, but that's a little less portable.

Cheap-ass hot dogs. That's what my wife has used to make friends with the crows in our yard (and it's worked pretty well). They're actually shy and it's taken a while for them to be willing to eat when they know she's around and watching, but they certainly come around and fuss. And she has me well-trained enough to know what she means when "crow dogs" appears on the grocery list.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:49 AM on August 23 [30 favorites]


Yeah, for me, this brought to mind the bit of Indonesian folklore that claims Orangutans can actually talk, but are very careful not to do so around men for fear that they should be rounded up and put to work.

The thing is Crows in the wild have a pretty solid understand of tit for tat, they exchange gifts, they solidify relationships via food sharing, they form cooperative relationships with wolves, they even lie about where they’ve stored food. Extending this to humans isn’t too far out (and indeed there are bunches of stories of people who’ve formed tit for tat relationships with crows, bits of food for shiny objects)
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 AM on August 23 [11 favorites]


I loved the blue Stellar's Jays also in the crowbox video. I wonder if these birds can also figure out the payment system. They have a lot of personality. Mark Twain wrote stories about this bird.
posted by eye of newt at 8:52 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Tired: Proletariat
Wired: Crow-letariat
posted by acb at 9:08 AM on August 23 [11 favorites]


Look, it says here that a group of crows is called a murder

These terms of venery have become a small fascination of mine; I love finding out about them. Anyways, they date from the Late Middle Ages, as part of specialized terminology for hunting, though they seem to have gotten silly and beyond scope pretty fast (see the Boke of St Albans, published in 1486, which in its list of "compaynys of beestys and fowlys" lists things like a "Sentencing of Judges" and an "Execution of Officers"). So the language was pretty much florid, poetic, and kind of silly from the outset, is my sense, and we continue that to this day.

To get back on the topic of crows, "murder" is the best known/most common term of venery for them - but I've found another one that I quite prefer, which is a "storytelling". I think it gets at their intelligence in a better way, which is kind of the point of this project. And given that if we start training crows and they may wind up running everything, I think I would like to start to welcome our new corvid overlords by referring to them in a more positive way.
posted by nubs at 9:11 AM on August 23 [13 favorites]


I'm really just aiming to get the crows on side early so that when my small child enters her goth phase in 10 years or so she'll have a magnificent army of corvids to call upon.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:15 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]




Thinking about putting one of these out until the crows pay me back for the side of pork they somehow (heaven only knows how) stole out of a closed, sealed, and weighted cooler from behind my in-laws restaurant. They liberated and consumed the whole damn thing in less than an hour with no one noticing. The only evidence was one long black feather.
posted by AaronTheBaron at 9:39 AM on August 23 [8 favorites]


Just so you know, the individual responsible for this is a serial liar and fabricator of evidence. It bothers me whenever I see people credulously repeating his claims.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:51 AM on August 23 [16 favorites]


Well, I, for one, welcome our new feathered overlords.

(I've never more favorited so many comments in one thread.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:55 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Good quality dog or cat kibble also makes good crow food and is carry-in-pocket-friendly. You can often pick up free samples in little bags at per stores.
posted by The otter lady at 10:04 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


Just so you know, the individual responsible for this is a serial liar and fabricator of evidence. It bothers me whenever I see people credulously repeating his claims.

Referring to this?
posted by thelonius at 10:08 AM on August 23 [13 favorites]


Rats. Next we’re going to learn that dog only once brought a leaf for a cookie.

Thanks adamgreenfield for pointing this out.
posted by bilabial at 10:27 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


I love crows and I've always wanted to befriend crows. So we started giving them peanuts still in the shell. Now, they wake us up at 5:30am. I yell, "shut up crows". But they don't. I love crows.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:50 AM on August 23 [5 favorites]


Crow vending machine previously.
posted by TedW at 10:50 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


The crowbox may be fake, but is this also fake ? : French park trains crows to pick up litter .
posted by Pendragon at 10:53 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


thelonius, yes, as well as personal acquaintance. I was an instructor at ITP during the period in question, and have encountered him in other professional contexts as well.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:37 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


brambleboy: Are you goth enough for that?

Yesss


Naberius: Yeah, for me, this brought to mind the bit of Indonesian folklore that claims Orangutans can actually talk, but are very careful not to do so around men for fear that they should be rounded up and put to work.

Car!
posted by filthy light thief at 11:42 AM on August 23 [5 favorites]


More reading on corvids: Testing Problem Solving in Ravens: String-Pulling to Reach Food; by Bernd Heinrich & Thomas Bugnyar, Department of Biology, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA (PDF)
The aim of our study was to re-examine the acquisition of problem-solving behaviour in ravens: accessing meat suspended from a perch by a string. In contrast to a previous study, here we: (i) controlled for possible effects of fear of the string, competition by dominants, and social learning and (ii) devised a mechanically equivalent but non-intuitive task to test for the possibility of means–end understanding. One-year-old ravens confronted with meat on a string for the first time tried several ways to reach the food. However, five of six birds suddenly performed a coherent sequence of pulling up and stepping on loops of string, essential for solving the problem. Those five birds were also successful in the non-intuitive task where they had to pull down the string to lift the meat. A second group of birds with similar exposure to strings but without any experience in pulling up meat failed the pull-down test. These results support the idea that the ravens' behaviour in accessing meat on a string is not only a product of rapid learning but may involve some understanding of cause–effect relation between string, food and certain body parts.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:46 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Rats are at least cute and don't act like unwanted tree lords.

I challenge you to find the cuteness in a trail of rat piss and turds across your food pantry and kitchen, or in the smell of a big dead rat rotting in your attic. I mean I hate squirrels and their wiring-chewing ways when they infest my attic, but unlike rats they never crawled down through my walls, under my sink, and then turned my kitchen into one giant biohazard.

Don't feed them.

(but I love crows, so carry on, rest of conversation)
posted by emjaybee at 12:29 PM on August 23 [5 favorites]


Every fall/winter here on the university campus I work at, every crow from within a 10 mile radius converges to roost for the night on the tall buildings, starting at around 4 PM. I'm not entirely sure why they chose precisely here (they like tall buildings because it helps them keep an eye on predators, but this is a city and there are plenty of tall buildings), but it's cultural for them now and they are not going anywhere. This is their campus now. Anyway, the university has had to purchase sidewalk-sized street sweepers and run them early every morning across campus throughout Crow Season because of the crow poop on the sidewalks. It's a lot of poop. And it really smells pretty rank.

(The auditory deterrents seem entirely ignored but it does make waiting for the bus at 5:00 on a cold dark winter night sound like you're standing in a tropical rain forest.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:38 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


This is really neat. (Though, I wish they had an abstract that gives some indication of how the particular design works. There doesn't seem to be much that isn't at the level of either "crows are neat" or "here's a part number for a specific micro-switch.)

The next step is surely training crows to find more valuable objects. Gem stones? Wedding rings? Saffron?

I suppose keeping the machine's ability to discriminate between real and fake versions ahead of the crows may turn out to be a challenge. Perhaps instead of a machine, you crowd source the discrimination using judge crows. Once you can teach judge crows to teach each other, things really take off.
posted by eotvos at 1:22 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


Just so you know, the individual responsible for this is a serial liar and fabricator of evidence. It bothers me whenever I see people credulously repeating his claims.

On actually reading the comments, perhaps it's less neat. But he sure seems to have put significant effort into this one. (I want to believe.)
posted by eotvos at 1:30 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


Just so you know, the individual responsible for this is a serial liar and fabricator of evidence. It bothers me whenever I see people credulously repeating his claims.

Hm. "Pack of liars" doesn't quite seem to suit this, as it is one liar and a group of people being credulous. So, perhaps, a "pack of fools" fits, but it doesn't seem right to my ears for this somehow. I like a "following of fools", personally. Perhaps a "gathering of gullible."

/terms of venery
posted by nubs at 2:00 PM on August 23 [9 favorites]


Just so you know, the individual responsible for this is a serial liar and fabricator of evidence.

Ugh, damn!
Good to find out before I build the damn thing!
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:02 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


You fucked up a perfectly good corvid is what you did. Look at it. It’s got consumerism.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:15 PM on August 23 [12 favorites]


The next step is surely training crows to find more valuable objects. Gem stones? Wedding rings? Saffron?

An acquaintance told me that when she was in school, one day there was a tapping on the classroom window. When they looked, they saw a crow with a pen in his mouth, sitting on the sill and tapping the glass.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:16 PM on August 23 [6 favorites]


The Underpants Monster: Only this, and nothing more?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:20 PM on August 23 [8 favorites]


I keep wondering how I could trade with crows for cleaning my gutters. Put out peanuts to tell them this is a trading house, ??, put out meat gobbets as the actual reward.

I think it's Corvus in which the author's daughter practices karate with a household magpie. Not only does this sound beautiful and fun, but of course the daughter gets very good.
posted by clew at 2:44 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


clew: That's some magical realism level stuff. I might need to read that.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:49 PM on August 23


On my walk back to my car this afternoon I saw a perfect raven's tail feather lying on the ground, but I didn't pick it up because I couldn't remember if the Migratory Bird Treaty Act covered ravens (it does) and if my Eagle Permit covers any other birds (it doesn't, which is kind of silly because while eagle feathers are the most sacred, they're not the only feathers that have meaning).

If it's still there tomorrow morning I might pick it up anyway; it may be illegal, but I wouldn't want to reject a gift from the Grand Duke of B5.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:57 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]


(Immediate follow-up: TIL there are non-eagle repositories and Letters of Authorization! Yay, more forms and waiting!)

The number of bureaucratic hoops and length time one must wait for traditional religious items to be distributed by ANOTHER government is some big fat nonsense. I wonder if that ties into why a lot of tribes are starting their own damn raptor aviaries.

Uhm, sorry for the non-corvid derail. To whomever mentioned Steller's jays, a heart for you <3. My absolute favorite bird of all time.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:12 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


I would pay any crows in my area a significant amount of money to protect me from magpie swooping. Their choice in regards to how they achieve that outcome.
posted by trialex at 4:29 PM on August 23


Crows were the gangsters of the city where I used to live. In my current home, it's mockingbirds.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:35 PM on August 23


His is not the only crow vending machine Others, based on picking up trash, have apparently worked. Basing the machine on coins could be the problem.
posted by tommyD at 7:20 PM on August 23


Basing the machine on coins could be the problem.

I certainly hope not.

My wife, who rejoices in long walks, has a theory that you can trace ups and downs in the general economy based on the number and value of coins on the ground. More when times are good, fewer when bad. She calls it the Dropped Change Index, and as far as I know, it is original to her. (Please advise if not.)

In her and my small trials over the years, it seems to have some validity.

Way I see it, crows could expand the data set considerably.

Econ researchers, start your engines!
posted by BWA at 8:31 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


should I befriend crows in the cemetery near my work? See, there are crows that hang out in the big trees near my work, and there's a cemetery across the street, and I have a mild gothic streak that makes me think that wandering by every few days and leaving snacks for the crows is the best idea ever.

Annalee Newitz wrote about making friends with crows, you might want to check it out: Corvids: The Birds Who Think Like Humans
Someday I will come up with a good reason why I am friends with the neighborhood crows. For now, I can say that it started when I looked up from my office window to see this big flock of crows hanging out on the roof of an apartment building nearby. I had heard that these creatures, part of a larger family of birds called corvids, were among the smartest animals in the world. If they were that intelligent, I wanted to meet them. How could I get those awesome animals to come visit me? I decided to find out.

Six months later, I have made friends with about seven crows and two small, brightly-colored corvids called scrub jays — one of whom eats out of my hand. Like many scientists who study these animals, I've become convinced that these creatures are not only smart, but also have a theory of mind.
posted by homunculus at 9:27 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]


Whether this is fake or not, one problem with the video is that it shows one bird at a time taking one piece of food at a time and flying off. It seems more likely that one big crow would open the food container and eat it all before leaving. Or, since birds of a feather, to coin a phrase, flock together, that a designated crow would open the cover, allowing the others to grab all the food and empty the box immediately.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:33 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


"Pack of liars" doesn't quite seem to suit this

Ship of fools?
posted by flabdablet at 2:19 AM on August 24


Whether this is fake or not, one problem with the video is that it shows one bird at a time taking one piece of food at a time and flying off. It seems more likely that one big crow would open the food container and eat it all before leaving. Or, since birds of a feather, to coin a phrase, flock together, that a designated crow would open the cover, allowing the others to grab all the food and empty the box immediately.

It wasn't prominent in the video, but they do say that this was mainly tested on crows in a sanctuary setting, not in the wild. So it would be easier to have just one bird interact with it at a time.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:07 AM on August 24


I had a pet crow I raised from a baby. Based on my sample size of one, yes, they would try and take more food than just a single piece. But you’re talking 3-4 peanuts in the shell at most. They have a throat pouch* to grab and go, but it’s limited in its capacity.

I don’t know how multiple crows would manage it.

Crows are smart bastards and this certainly seems within their capabilities. Plus I miss having them around. Plus I’m broke. 🤔

*i don’t know if this is a separate anatomical part of them, or if they just have a large space in their mouth/throat and it would be the equivalent of us tucking as much food as possible under and around our tongues.

They also drool. It’s weird.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:24 AM on August 24 [2 favorites]


The technical term for the "throat pouch" is "crop".
posted by tobascodagama at 8:28 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


Oh gosh, crows love harassing other animals. I just remembered this. Heaven forbid crows figure out that people drop money under certain circumstances. I can just see crows waiting at vending machines and parking meters to dive bomb people and drop their change. I guess it’s sorta good that we use much less cash for this to be an opportunity?

My crow, Mem, has his own bedroom but was allowed access to the rest of the house when my late husband and I were home. We had a modified screen door for the daytime, but closed his door at night or when he was being particularly shouty.

Mem loved nothing more than to harass the cats, particularly to pull their tails. The cats learned quickly to never turn their back when he was near. Except cats are not smart. And crows are. What Mem figured out that there was a space under the door when it was closed. He would slide food under the door, which was a meat-based kibble. The cats would come and eat it. They would turn around to leave, and their tails would often brush up against the bottom of the door, where he would grab it and pull, sending the victim cat into orbit. My car Darwin fell for this EVERY SINGLE TIME.

It was also hilarious to watch them interact with each other. The cats were cautious around Mem because of said tail pulling. So he spent an inordinate amount of time trying to sneak up on them. Watching a crow trying to do a sneaky walk is by in far the best thing you’ll see in a given day.

posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:40 AM on August 24 [22 favorites]


The technical term for the "throat pouch" is "crop".

Thanks tobascodagama. I actually knew this was part of the anatomy in other birds, and I don’t know why I never associated it with crows.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:43 AM on August 24


Mem loved nothing more than to harass the cats...

One summer, my big, dumb galoot cat Toby killed a baby blue jay. Mama Jay spent the rest of the summer trying to get revenge. She would swoop down on his striped ass with a shriek like a banshee. And there were several other gray tabbies on the block, but she never failed to recognize and single out the fool cat who done her wrong. He had to spend a lot of time inside, which he Was Not Happy About.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:32 PM on August 24 [5 favorites]


This video was delightful. My cockatiel has an understanding of being paid to do a job, that is, most of the time I have to pay him to go in cage or fly down from the cupboards. The mirror has less value than a piece of cracker, however a bit of bread has much more value than both combined. If he's feeling particularly ornery, I have to pay him a mirror, cracker and bread before he feels he has been paid enough to cooperate :D

If I recall right, there's a similar example with monkeys using cucumbers and grapes.
posted by Calzephyr at 8:05 AM on August 26


I am already with Dollar Crow Club. They send you the base crow at first, and after that, it's just a new interchangeable beak each month.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:25 PM on August 26 [6 favorites]


This seems like a trap.
Corvid's are SMART Dinosaurs. They want their planet back.
posted by DigDoug at 6:05 AM on August 27


I like this alternative concept a lot better.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:40 AM on August 27


We had to take a cat to the vet years ago when he was injured by an attacking blue jay. He had also killed a baby one, and they never forget. Kitty recovered and was more wary in the future.
posted by mermayd at 3:20 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Just a note that it turns out blue jays are part of the corvid family that includes crows, so it makes sense that they exhibit some of the same intelligence.
posted by eye of newt at 7:29 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


> I say hi to all the crows around my neighborhood and they mostly just look at me funny or hop around.

Thats fine but if you mess with them, they will mess with you and they have long memories and they recruit other crow-haters.

Anecdotally: a neighbor found a dead crow on her lawn and disposed of it.
protip: Never dispose of a dead crow during daylight. This is a major corvid faux-pas. You might think you're being tidy but you wont get away with this unseen. (They scolded her for several years thereafter and even dive bombed her a few times)
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:08 PM on September 17


Also under separate post with ob.trig.warning: Corvids sometimes (mating season) rape the corpse of other mallards, err...corvids
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:13 PM on September 17




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