A Murder of Crows
Full Episode

Although cultures around the world may regard the crow as a scavenger, bad omen, or simply a nuisance, this bad reputation might overshadow what could be regarded as the crow’s most striking characteristic – its intelligence. New research indicates that crows are among the brightest animals in the world. NATURE’s A Murder of Crows brings you these so-called feathered apes, as you have never seen them before. Buy the DVD. This film premiered October 24, 2010.

  • Raymond Pierotti

    This is a marvelous episode and shows a lot of fascinating work done by investigators all over the world. There is one aspect of it that rankles, however, and that is the repeated claims that much of the research being done is “unique” or being “carried out for the first time”. As an example, recognition of human faces and the use of mask was demonstrated in Western Gulls in California more than 20 years ago. Similarly, although New Caledonian Crows are remarkable beings, techniques similar to those being shown as “first time experiments” were carried out on Ravens by Bernd Heinrich and his research group at the University of Vermont (which included John Marzluff) back in the early 1990’s (see Heinrich’s 1999 book, Mind of the Raven). Crows are highly intelligent, but they are less sophisticated than Ravens, which are their close relatives, and Parrots, which have highly sophisticated vocal repertoires. As for the “Crow Funerals”, similar and more complex rituals have been described from Magpies, another relative of crows. Another odd exclusion is the apparent lack or participation by the female investigators who did much of the early work on Crows, such as Eleanor Brown and Carolee Calcott. You guys are all doing great work, but you should give proper credit to the pioneers upon whose shoulders you stand.

  • Alan Johnson

    This is a wonderful program and I am delighted that scientist are devoting serious study to crows. I had 2 pet crows when I was younger, one in 1966 and the other in 1968. Both crows were fantastic pets (I know, many will disagree with making wild animals pets, and I would not do it now). Their intelligence was off the charts. During that time, my mother was attending graduate school on Saturdays. The crow knew when she returned on Saturday afternoon and waited at the end of the street so she could fly home with her car. The other slept in my bedroom on top of the opened door. He would fly down to my bed in the morning and literally snuggle up and make cooing sounds while I petted him. They are remarkable birds, and notorious about stealing anything that shines, including most of the socket wrenches from my set used to work on bicycles. They ended up in the gutter. Thanks again for the program

  • Dee King

    There is usually a time gap with the most recent show. I know I waited months for an American Experience I wanted to see ….but it was finally there and i could watch online. I caught the last 40 minutes of this and it was awesome.

  • Ronda Freeman

    This is one of the most amazing shows I have ever seen! Wow, I will have much more respect for this bird now than ever. God is amazing, this is just another example of his great work. May God be with you all !!!!!

  • Robert O’Bryan

    Just watched the episode on television. Great show.

  • Russell Porter

    What about the native american peoples of this country that knew this 1000’s of years ago? Instead white people have to tried to get credit for everything. Same thing goes with the wolf and buffalo.

  • Keith

    Laboratory-raised Northern blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) have been observed tearing pieces from pages of newspaper and utilizing them as tools to rake in food pellets which were otherwise out of reach.


  • t baker

    What is a “Coopersaw or Cupersaw?” that ate one of the young crows?

  • Betsy

    It was a Coopers Hawk.

  • chris brenizer

    Murder of crows

    Hope this isn’t a double post. But just saw the episode and wondered if the research with the baby crow could also be viewed as the crow reacting to the researcher’s behaviour instead of the mask. Maybe crows warn off anyone/thing that shows too much interest in them. Or get ‘cranky’ if someone hangs around them too much.

    After all, the juvenile crow did not react to the guy’s real face. The face of the large animal that invaded it’s nest, captured and banded and radio tagged it as a baby.

    Crows may have intelligence. But maybe they too, like humans, are just creeped out by grown men wearing rubber masks and stalking them.

  • t baker

    Cooper’s Hawk


    The hunting Cooper’s Hawk approaches its prey stealthily, moving quietly through dense cover until it is close enough to overcome its target with a burst of speed. The secretive traits that allow the Cooper’s Hawk to surprise its prey also make it difficult to observe. It is most easily seen during migration.
    back to top

    Medium-sized birds (robins and jays) and small mammals (squirrels and mice) make up the majority of the Cooper’s Hawk’s diet.

  • Robert F.

    I once had a crow that was blown out of its nest on Memorial Day weekend in Eastport Maine, and it had not yet acquired full flying skills, but had a glide “angle” of about 5′ drop for every 100′ forward. I caught it, and had a large bird cage to hold it for a while. Getting it to eat was a different story, since it would NOT eat from a dish. I put on a pair of BLACK leather gloves, and used some black lacquered chopsticks, and fed it “Cycle 2″ dogfood meatballs, which it immediately accepted from my gloved hand. I named him/her (couldn’t tell really) “Magnum.” (Play on Cro-Magnon) and raised it for about a month, and said “Hello” to it every day as I fed it. One day my wife called to say “your crow just said ‘hello’” and indeed it did. I took Magnum out of the cage, and let it free. It sat for a while on the porch, then flew strongly to a bunch of its relatives. I banded his leg, and this seemed to cause some low pecking order behavior against him by his neighborhood crows. Magnum came ‘home’ every day when I walked home for lunch, and I fed him for another month or so. Eventually I could hear his voice (yes it was his and he had bonded to my voice) and he would come to a call seeing me. I didn’t know about facial recognition bit until seeing this introduction however. I can’t wait to see it. This story may sound far fetched, but it is true. Before freeing him in fact, I took him with a “leash” down to the airport in Eastport, where I kept my airplane, and let him practice flying…(where else would you train a bird to fly?) and on his 20′ long leash he strengthened his wings, and flew in a circle keeping the leash loose as if understanding that he couldn’t go any farther away. For several months after I stopped giving him lunch, he would come to a call, sit on the porch rail, and come to my arm. I believe he survived for quite a while and always wanted to know how he did.

  • John

    I totally believe the recognition. My wife started out by throwing them a few peanuts when she went to the park with the dogs. It has snowballed. Although there are many other people with their dogs, she sometimes will have as many as 100 crows doing circles around her and letting her know they are there. We now go through about 10 pounds of peanuts every week.

  • Philippe

    Over the years I have watched this series develope there have been two things that have always stood out to me. The first is that although I may not agree with the ideas expressed; there has always been something worth thiking about in each and every show I have watched. The secound thing that I have learned is that with intelligence comes the reasoning ability to ask questions to gain more knowleadge; and that if we do not know the questions to ask we do not grow. I have a third thing that has struck me just now and that is that with all the knowleadge we have around us; weather it is about life, the cosmos, nature or ourselves we are only now learning the questions that we need to ask to learn. I wonder how much is out there to learn.

  • Mo

    Thank you so much for a wonderful program!! We just spent an evening out and, oddly enough, had a fun conversation about the antics and intelligence of crows and jays over dinner!! I came home to a message from a friend about the program and was able to watch it here. Great timing!

  • Olivia

    Good points, Philippe. There is an infinite amount to learn about animals, isn’t there? The biggest lesson we’re learning, I hope, is humility — that is, stripping ourselves of our speciesism!

    I couldn’t see program this on my non-cable digital TV so I sure was glad that you made the full episode available within a few hours of airing it, PBS. THANK YOU!

    There are crows and bronzed grackles near the YMCA’s restaurant on a street I frequently walk down. I started throwing cracker crumbs this summer, and the birds began to recognize me (I could tell by their flight patterns and squawks). I stopped feeding them after deciding to invest my money in bird seed for the sparrows and mourning doves in the courtyard in front of my townhouse. But now I think I’ll buy a big bag of peanuts and throw a few to the crows and grackles occasionally. I delighted in seeing the ground bare of cracker crumbs on my return walk; so now I will take pleasure in seeing it bare of peanuts. I don’t want to buy peanuts in shells because I don’t think the “Y” would appreciate all the shells on the lawn.

  • julia amine

    “I once had a crow that was blown out of its nest …” This bird should have gone to a wildlife rescuer. I think it is illegal to capture, contain or otherwise significantly interact with protected wildlife including native crows. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/about/faqs/birds/feathers.htm If one wants to raise a crow relative, one can buy a Mynah Bird or raise a starling.

  • Belle Mears

    This was a wonderful edition of Nature! My brother and friend and I had been at the farmer’s market in Seattle yesterday and we happened to notice some crows swooping gently into the area and grabbing bread morsels from the ground. We were enjoying watching them and commenting to each other that we had heard crows are very smart birds. Little did I know we would later be watching this great show later last night.

    I love the fact that they are referred to as a flock as a “Murder” of crows. I didn’t know that and want to learn how that name came about.

    It was one of the best Nature shows I have ever seen and I woke up this morning thinking about it. I also want to look into Magpies and Ravens more now.

    When I was a little girl, my Mom would take my sister and I to a seamstress who made us beautiful coats and dresses for special occasions. Young children are quite fidgety when it comes to being fitted for clothes – but Mrs. Callahan’s cottage in Stony Brook, NY was always a curious destination for Sister and I. This was because in spite of the not so much fun of being “pinned” into pieces of fabric for what seemed like an eternity, we knew afterward (and sometimes DURING) out fitting we would be treated to a visit with her pet crow. I do not remember the crow’s name but I do remember being amazed that this one spoke and followed us around waiting for us to feed him. He had funny tricks and quirks and I know she had raised him from a small baby when she found him in her yard. The bird lived with her for many years – it had a “house” cage – but was rarely in there.

    Thanks for this wonderful show!! I feel as though I have bonded with crows and will be hoping to notice them whenever I hear their voices at Old Westbury Gardens as I work now.

  • Cailin

    Raymond – the recognition of faces is well known. What is NEW is passing down that recognition from generation to generation, which is amazing.

    Also, a sophisticated vocal repertoire doesn’t make you smart. It simply means you have the physiology to form complex sounds. Crows are considered smarter than parrots on the whole.

    Robert F: It is illegal to keep native wild birds. In the future, get the animal to a licensed rehabilitator. The crow was also imprinted, not recognizing your face. There’s a big difference, and imprinting is never good for a wild animal (one reason untrained people should not take in wildlife).

    A good episode, though. I enjoyed it, though I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know.

  • Barbara Lucas

    I found this program informative and suspect that since we really know little about the day to day behavior of so many creatures, there are many amaz’ing things to find out.

    I was somewhat distressed about a comment made by one of the researchers when the Cooper’s Hawk was found consuming one of the young crows. He said he hoped that the hawk “choked” while eating the crow. This is a strange comment as it comes from a bird researcher who apparently has not accepted the fact that nature runs by its own rules, not our rules. It’s understandable that the researcher was disappointed at the crow’s demise. As a professional, he quickly turned the focus of the experiment away from the crows and onto himself and his loss. Sorry, it’s not about him and how he feels, it’s about how nature works and we must accept that if our endeavors for the benefit of wildlife are to be a success. That one comment took away some of the credibility of the reasearcher’s efforts.

    It concerns me, in part, because so many people today get their wildlife “fix” from the media such as PBS and have little contact with the real thing. The two are not the same experience at all. To infer that the hawk was bad and the crow was good or more worthy is to ignore that nature does not make this distinction, so why do we?

  • janet hostetter

    I was trying to photograph an active crow “gathering” area near my house in St. Paul, MN, but they quickly spotted my lens (as many birds do….a big eyeball), and consistently moved just out of focal range.
    As I walked home, frustrated, I noticed a very distinct escort…two crows, above and flying absolutely equidistant to my right and left, at exactly my pace.
    Only after I disappeared in my house did they wheel back to their flock, still cawing.

    I felt like I’d gotten the bum’s rush.

    Felt eerily like they inspected me and then communicated to the other crows that my potential threat had ended.
    I think crows think.

  • Nicole

    I also thought the researcher’s comment regarding the Cooper’s Hawk eating the crow, ” I hope he chokes on it”, was very unprofessional. Even if he feels that way, it should not have been said on camera. I think the film editors or “Nature” should have edited this comment out. I certainly take offense of it and I know I am not the only one.

  • Cherry

    Loved it! My grandfather always knew crows were one of the smartest animals in the world, I told him about this show. This was a great episode.

  • Tom Dietrich

    Recently watched “A Murder of Crows”. This episode reminded me of of the many times that I have observed crows and sea gulls in close proxsimity with one another in an industrial park setting. Both appear to to fill, in that environment, a similar niche. Both being gifted opportunists, especially as concerns scavenging. Yet I have observed very little interaction. Has there been any study on this occurance?
    Regards, Tom Dietrich

  • Josh

    Hey Nature I think your website is having some issues because it says that the epsiode has not been uploaded yet.

  • Jo

    I watched this stunning show with my 15 yr old cat. We were both transfixed, although probably not for the same reasons.

  • Hevisto

    I don’t really care how smart they are when my neighbor feeds them and our whole street looks like a scene from a horror film. Hundreds pooping everywhere. Any wildlife that is artificially supported by human feeding comes to depend upon that food source. I have tried scaring them with lasers and balloons and killing them with an air rifle.
    They will beat me but I will keep trying.

  • Calvin

    I agree with the earlier post about the crow making the noise because of the behavior of the researcher. HE walked by with the mask and the crow made no noise. He walked by again and was staring at it intensely and only then did the crow make noises. Since crows are smart, couldnt they be freaked out by a scary mask that looks like no other human rather than a vague memory of one? The point that they didnt respond to the person who pulled them from the tree was a good point as well. I think having a particular person be the “bad guy” rather than a mask would have been smarter. I also worry that all those birds were caught or hit because of the burden of the radio transmitters and straps.

    I too watched this with my cat and she too was transfixed.

  • Gail Eiffel

    Great show! Told everyone @ work today about it and that they should catch it themselves. Pearl, one of my many cats, was entranced! She was glued onto the coffee table in front of the TV and then hopped beside the set to look behind it several times, looking for White Wing! New respect for crows and here I thot they were just flying rats like seagulls. Also noted @ Raymond Pierotti’s comments and will read up on the previous investigations. Merci, PBS, encore!

  • Yvonne

    A wonerful story! We saw the tail end of this when it first aried and my son, who is home schooled loved it. We are studying birds and then we waatched the entire show on line. It was so good and very interesting> Thank you nature. You help to educate not only adults, but also sparked interest in my son and I am sure others as well> Bravo!

  • Donna Nelson

    I tried to post a message yesterday, but it never showed up, so I’m trying again…..This was a wonderful episode of “Nature”, and I enjoyed every minute of it, but I too, wanted to mention the earlier work spoken of by Raymond Pierotti, Bernd Heinrich’s book “the Mind of the Raven.” Heinrich had an earlier book (1989) “Ravens in Winter” which is well worth reading. I realize this show is about crows, but the minds of all the corvids are pretty amazing…..

  • Jon Gutierrez

    This is fascinating and educational !

  • George Dubya

    “Another odd exclusion is the apparent lack or participation by the female investigators who did much of the early work on Crows, such as Eleanor Brown and Carolee Calcott. You guys are all doing great work, but you should give proper credit to the pioneers upon whose shoulders you stand.”

    Not in Europe or America, everything was “discovered” by Americans or the Brits!
    Astronomy , Mathmatics, culture, and ofcourse, only known researchers are given
    credit, unlike in China where no individual is given credit but the country is.

  • http://www.nlchiropracticlajolla.com/ Ester Bellar

    Thanks. Thanks for posting this. Its always nice to see someone educate the world.

  • Sonia Adams

    What a wonderful piece! We have a lot of huge crows here in Washington State. They are wonderful birds! A few years ago I left a Christmas Box of cookies on the trash can for the trash truck workers. It wasn’t long before they realized it was something to eat and eat it they did. We have 13 parrots and we think they are pretty darn smart, but crows outsmart even them. I am waiting for them to pick up our language. Sonia

  • Chris

    My brother, as an infant, was killed and eaten by a Cooper’s Hawk. Your mindless allegiance to the raptor agenda reminds me of a certain country in the 1930’s. When you complain about the verbal abuse of a Cooper’s Hawk or of any Raptorially Correct shiboleth , I feel like my brother has been killed again and see those talons tear into his pink flesh before my eyes again. And while I have forgiven the Cooper’s Hawk that murdered my helpless sibling, you can’t forgive any percieved by slight to any raptor from the Corvid-American community. Have you no shame?

  • Revelation Now

    Could we please have a text version published? I have no idea why this video is “unavailable in my region”. Pretty screwed if you ask me, with-holding knowledge.

  • Skylark

    There is a pair of crows who hang out around my house. I feed them and they recognize my car when I came home from work. They wait in the tree across the street for food. The other day I threw out some chicken skin and then ducked back in the house to watch. They flew down onto the lawn and started to eat but then one of them flew a couple of houses up the street while the other stayed and ate the skin. In a minute the first one was back with something in its mouth. It walked over to the one that had stayed and laid something down near its head, I couldn’t make out exactly what it was but it looked like a couple of grapes, and then it backed up and looked at its mate. It is the first time I ever saw a bird share. This was a couple of days after watching the Nature show on crows which was wonderful and I was very amazed to see this bird share its treasure, although I have seen them show affection and caring for their young.

  • Phyllis

    We have 3 crows visiting regularly over the past few years. We put meat scraps on a white paper plate. One day I took my neighbor a piece of cake on a white plate and the crows followed me across the street and yelling at me all the way.. They thought I was giving their food away. Also found out that they would take any bread and dip it in the bird bath first so I started wetting the bread and putting it out in balls. When I am in the yard they will land in the trees and yell at me as if to tell me there is no food out. We never have more than 3.

  • davetter

    Tom Dietrich’s question about crow/gull interactions is one I too have wondered about. Once I saw a crow land near a flock of ring-billed gulls on a sandspit. As the crow walked toward and then through the gull flock, the gulls moved out of the way for it.

    My question is what purpose does the superior intelligence of crows serve? Several species of presumably less clever birds (pigeons, mallards, robins, grackles, starlings, house sparrows, even red-tailed hawks, to name a few) have adapted equally well to a variety of changed conditions.

  • Kurt S

    Every morning I started feeding the crows peanuts as I walked out to my car. Two crows particularity would swarm the handful of peanuts and then watch me very closely get into my car and drive away. This went on for weeks as the crows happily ate peanuts for breakfast. The last morning I was running behind and rushing out the door peanut-less and being scolded by the crows “ca-ca-ca-Car-CAR”. I think they were trying to tell me something because the next day I went out to go to work and make up with the crows with two handfuls of nuts, but the car was gone! My car was found later by local police at the peanut factory. Forensic came up with no fingerprints, but black feathers were found in driver and passenger seats. Lesson learned,, crows learn by observation, don’t teach crows how to drive a car.

  • Maling

    Amazing. I live where we have lots of crows and ravens. I’ve always been mesmerized by them.

  • janinpenna

    I was surprised when I heard the researcher said “I hope he chokes on it” when he discovered a Cooper’s Hawk had eaten one of his Crow subjects. The first thing I learned about birding is that we can’t fight nature and that includes predators.

    I am not convinced that the subject bird “learned and remembered” his family reacting to the mask. It could be instinct. The mask was scary and unusual. It would be a natural reaction to a frightening object. People and other animals do it all the time, I didn’t see anything new in this research.

    I hate to be so negative but was MURDER in the title just to add to the mystery and gain viewers? If so, it was a cheap trick, we watch PBS because we want to.

  • Pecosd

    I have always thought of primates as hairy crows.

  • myk


    A “murder” is the official name for a group, flock, or band of crows.

  • Karen from Los Angeles

    My cat watched the entire show. Ever since then she has been waiting for a repeat.

  • Malcolm MacLeod, MD

    October 29, 2010

    OMG, I have been a crow fan for so many years, and have developed many friends by feeding baked,
    unsalted peanuts (lots). They find me on schedule, and should i walk at an unusual time, my close friends
    will fly down and ask.

  • Chet Fuhrman

    This looks fascinating, but I can’t figure out how to get it to “play”. I have parrots, another ‘intelligent species’. Assistance will be appreciated.


  • George Holland

    My wife and I live out here on the old family farm and are amazed by the wildlife we see near our home. Some years back I was sitting at my computer waiting on a large file to download and looked curiously out the window to see a single crow walking down a row a freshly planted corn that had not even had time to sprout. To my amazement the crow had figured out the spacing of the planted corn and was uncovering each kernel with his feet as he walked down the row until he had his fill. I had to get my wife to witness what I was watching because I just knew no one would believe me when I repeated what I had just seen. I have a lot more respect now for the my black featherd friends. They truly are very intelligent anaimals.

  • Gloria Banach

    When a tiny kitten, recently come to live with us, followed me deep into the woods near our home, several crows suddenly started screaming loudly all around us. Looking up, seeing a large owl, but not seeing any obvious threat to the crows, I realized that the owl was focused on Tuffy, our new kitten. After I ran back and scooped Tuffy into my arms, the crows stopped calling and flew away. I can’t be sure that the crows deliberately warned me, but I said “Thank You”; and I remember that experience with gratitude.

  • Aarathi Srinidhi

    OMG! I loved this show! This was such an eye opener on their ability to use objects as tools to achieve their desired end result.
    Our primates are surely linked with this species as much as they are with the apes.
    Thank you PBS for this educative episode.

  • Bud

    What an awesome episode! These birds are amazing creatures. Like many others, my cat too watched the entire episode sitting right in front of the TV. I thought nothing of it until I read that others’ cats did the same. Can’t wait to see it again.

  • Sharon Zammuto

    Many years ago, I had a pet crow. Many of the references in this film helped to explain/identify some of the behaviors I witnessed in my own pet crow. I remember how he would capture ants before making them a feast. He would lay low on an ant hill, extend his wings and wait patiently until enough ants were crawling on his body and wings to satiate his appetite, as he picked them off one by one. One day, sitting on my arm, while walking through a wooded area, he jumped off and approached a deceased crow on the ground. He began a solemn, low and steady caw I had never heard before as he slowly circled the bird 3 or 4 times. My crow also liked to bury food (as well as objects) in the yard. He would dig a hole, place the food in the ground, cover it with dirt and maybe a leaf or stone and return again when he was hungry. There were so many amazing things I remember observing and wondering how it was possible a bird could be so clever and deliberate and calculating. As a young girl, I loved to wrap him in a blanket, place him in a doll’s cradle and rock him to sleep on his back. I was impressed even then that a wild bird would go along with this child’s play and never resist. I would speak or sing softly and was amazed to learn if I stopped, he would make a fussy little noise until I started speaking/singing again, never once opening his eyes.

  • Linda Haddon

    I always love corvidae family. I rescued, handraised then released ravens and crows several times and knew they are very inteligent. But this episode tells me more of their inteligence and other social behaviors that I didn’t know.
    This episode is amazing … love it !!!

  • JoAnn Niemela

    Another comment:
    No one has mentioned Kevin J. McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.
    From his book, Big, Black and Beautiful he talks about the complicated lives of crows. He explains the family unit. “What appears to be a typical small flock of birds is, in fact, a cohesive family. The group consists of a breeding pair and their offspring from the last three breeding seasons. The young from the previous years have remained with their parents and assisted in raising their brothers and sisters. They have fed the young in the nest, defended the nest, and one is now guarding the family while they forage.
    In his lecture at the Smithsonian, McGowan mentioned walking across campus and being picked out of the crowd and bombarded by crows that he had previously banded in the nest. McGowan’s work with crows, I believe, far surpasses the work done by the California group.

  • Adam

    Great episode! My favorite part was the University of Auckland displaying New Caledonia island crows using tools in very impressive ways. I have never doubted the intelligence of crows, but had no idea they were capable of “metatool” use. I had to google it and found this interesting link: http://language.psy.auckland.ac.nz/crows/

    As earlier posters have already stated, it would have been interesting to see how the “stalked” crow might have reacted to any other person walking back and forth and staring up at him. Masked or not.

    On the point of the researcher’s comment, “I hope he chokes on it.” Though it did strike me as something the editor’s should have removed; I think it was more likely that this was an expression of frustration for having tracked a bird for a long period of time only to have it eaten, rather than a true wish for retribution. ^^b

  • Elisabeth Ballou

    My Dad was an entomologist and my Mom a zoologist.
    When I was growing up my brother, sister and I did not rush around to squeeze in a meal between sport or extracurricular practices, instead we packed a pick-nick and drove to parks, reservoirs and nature preserves to see what we could see. If there was a question my parents couldn’t answer about anything we were curious about we looked it up in one of the dozens of nature guides brought along for the ride. Our lazy walks, whether through wood or meadow, near stream or lake, by rock or roadside, revealed some of the most fascinating and interesting things I’ve ever encountered—all for free! Experienced together as a family, these excursions opened in me an endless curiosity about life and a lifetime love for learning.
    Nature is full of mystery, adventure, nuance and excitement for those who are curious and patient enough to come looking. It stays patiently within view, sometimes invisibly, no matter where you are, until you make the effort to really see what is in front of you.
    I grew up believing that everyone could identify a tree just by looking at its bark or knew the differences between frog and a toad, grackle and starling, butterfly and moth. It wasn’t until I was well into my middle age and my own kids were growing up that I realized I had achieved a rare and valuable level of nature knowledge.
    It is easy to recognize that “long ago” whether farming, hunting or gathering, human survival depended on knowing the significance of observed behaviors in animals and the subtle differences that occur in the natural world during environmental changes. Indigenous people thrived not only due to their knowledge of nature but because their entire culture recognized, respected and protected the ecosystems that sustained them. Even though it doesn’t seem as clear to many modern folk, our lives are just as dependent on nature and the ecosystems that define it, as we ever were.
    Most Sundays my Dad and I looked forward to an afternoon of birdwatching followed by a home-cooked meal topped off with the latest episode of NATURE. We always suspected that crows were extraordinary but we simply never got the chance to watch them closer or postulate theories that might explain what we saw. My Dad died nine years ago but I know he would have been as delighted, interested, outraged and facinated with the information presented in this program as I was.
    Watching, discussing and researching what is presented on NATURE is one way I continue to remember and honor the real treasures my Mom and Dad left me, which is a great appreciation, respect and passion for the natural world. It also fuels my curiosity and gives me just one more thing to look for when I’m outside in the real thing.

  • Kayleigh

    Mr. Marzluff is my Wildlife Professor at the University of Washington!
    Responding to the crows
    He says stuff like “I hope he chokes on it” and jokes around like that all the time. Im sick of people thinking that researchers and higher-ups shouldnt be able to act like humans and just have to act intelligent all the time. Im sorry if you were offended by him saying that, but he is only human in his frusterations, and he is truley dedicated to ALL types of birds.
    Besides, nothing happens if youre offended, its not like youll die or something, so there is no reason someone should have to go out of their way to not offend somebody when it doesnt hurt them at all. People have different views on different things and were allowed to express those thoughts. He expressed his thoughts, its not like you have to live by his words!
    I know for a fact that he would never wish ill on another bird, its just like someone frusterated saying “i hope he chokes on it” about a person.

  • tracy

    Ironically, my 10 yr old son saw a crow on his way home from school Friday. This little encounter made him all the more eager to learn about crows in this segment. He now knows that the crow “saw” him too & will possibly remember him. How cool is that!

  • barelyb

    @chris brenizer I wondered this myself Chris. Birds do NOT like you looking directly at them. This is well proven as a predator will watch intently before attacking. I kind of wandered if the researcher was looking directly a lot with the mask and not without it. I’m sure they know this though about birds so took this into account.

  • kolumbus2209

    Crows are for me an important part of my life, I rarely speak to them, but I like to listen to them, watch them like to like to read in her face and make me think about their behavior and their lives. I discover many things in common (friendship, jealousy, envy, strife, reconciliation, comfort, refinement) and a few but significant differences (no bullying, no hate, phenomenal memory, perfect knowledge of human and dog) to our species.
    Conclusion sentence: “To err is human,but NOT a feature of crows.”
    And here is a realization for SETI’s us at:
    How do we find and recognize extraterrestrial intelligence, and that their recognition if we are not able to detect intelligent life on this planet and recognize!
    Greetings from
    Here an example for employment with my “black beautys”:

  • Ram

    In india crow has unique place in hindu culture. Hindu’s think that Cros is the medium and understand the spirits. The nasa study can find that the crow can understand someone else mind. I am not sure how Hindu culture came to conclusion that this is the bird can understand the human mind.

  • flychomperfly

    thank you so much PBS for replaying on the net!!

    like others, my pets watched too — mine are parrots, and they watched intently LOL

    after the show, they reminded us that they always recognize faces too — they can pick us out of a crowd and fly to us, and will prefer to fly to people who look most like us. most importantly, they will alert one-another (including those that were chicks when we got them) to what they perceive as a dangerous person or object, and even if the bird that initiated it isn’t around, others (including the chick) will spook and take off when the person or object reappears.

  • bob hilger

    Look if birds are direct descendants of the dinosaurs, and most agile vela-raptors were bi-pedal, color vision and had workable thumbs, and if these crows are tool users, social, and have complex intelligence, what does that say how Intelligent were some dinosaurs. Did they use tools like crows, did they have reasononig abilities like crows, did they have a complex social cultural structure like crows. If that is the case imagine the remote possibilities of how far up the evolutionary ladder dinosaurs could have gone. Therefore from crows, parrotts, and even raptors, bird intelligence might just give scientist and inside look of just how brilliant the dinosaurs were, and yes, they could have easily involved into something like us, but the question is why did they not become us. Certainly, these crows show us humans how damn close dinosaurs could have come.

  • snufkin

    I’m sorry, but this comment is not available in your region due to rights restrictions.

  • Philip

    There was an older gentleman in my hang gliding club years ago who’s daughter brought him a juvenile crow with one eye shot out(she was a vet). The crow healed but couldn’t survive on it’s own. My friend cooked him meatballs for breakfast. After a while the bird learned to speak phrases. It said things it heard. One I remember was”Earl, close the gate”. He would also laugh exactly like my friend. There are video tapes of this. My friend passed away about 10 years ago but the bird may still be alive. His name was Edgar Allen Crow! You might say he was the mascot of the Alabama Hang Gliding Association. This is all true.

  • Mishel Chen


  • Roger W. King, Sr

    By luck, I watched the full episode of “A Murder of Crows” on my laptop this morning. For me I enjoyed it more than I can express.

    Back in 1955, my two friends and I raised three crows as pets from late May until early September.

    In fact, it was such a great experience that I wrote a book about it entitled “Me Mother Crow.

    It is a human-interest story about that time and what we went through. However, my memories and your story truly coincided; therefore, I added a link on my website (http://www.MeMotherCrow.com) for anyone visiting me can click on the link and enjoy it as I have.

    Thanks again,

    Roger W. King, Sr.

  • Roberta

    As much as I enjoyed seeing the crows, I was seriously uncomfortable with some of the “scientific methods” used. How much do those heavy bands and radio transmitters alter the lives and social status of the birds they are studying? Would “White Feather” have even been able to mate had she not been hit by a car? And was she hit by a car because her flight was impaired by the scientific apparatus that was placed on her? I love learning about animals, have devoted my life to it in fact. But I become squeamish when I see young animals “studied to death” in the name of science. These studies could have been carried out in large aviaries or in rehab facilities without the interference factor. Or not at all for that matter. What did they learn, after all? That crows are smart? No duh. We knew that already without all this “science”. Just another way for so called scientists to run around chasing animals like children with expensive equipment and large grants. Sorry, it’s not real science if you put radios on them and giant bands. That’s easy. Why not look for a way to observe without all that junk?

  • Patti

    It’s about time the public is being made aware of how smart birds are. Certainly, though, not just crows. I have also raised a rescue robin, which I released back to the wild after 6 weeks. It learned everything about our house. Which switches turned on which lights or fans for instance. She knew that it was her in the mirror, which really amazed me. She knew that the microwave meant her food was coming and many, many other things. She also could go in and out of the house and act completely differently for each occasion. We could see her wild bird instincts take over when outside and she immediately became tame the instant she came in the house at night to sleep. The day she finally left and took off with the other robins was sad and joyous at the same time. We thought we would never see her again, until two years later when we had an ice storm she came back to us. Thousands of robins had died in our town that February because of the storm. The news media told everyone to put out food for the robins. “Robbie” showed up at our back door barely able to walk or stand. We took care of her once again for about 4 weeks, then she went out, found a mate and built a nest in our tree. She has visited us off and on for the past 6 years. She has never forgotten us. I do not know how she acts around other humans, but I am sure, she knows us.

  • Global Tv?

    I’m sorry, but this comment is not available in your region due to rights restrictions.

  • Peter marmorek

    You know what really pisses me off, PBS? It’s not just that you don’t won’t show your videos in Canada (though TV does show here), but that you make me sit through 30 seconds of commercial before you deign to tell me I can’t watch the show.

  • Parker

    Interesting. Scientists aren’t as smart as we first thought and crows are smarter than scientists first thought. :-)

  • marianne

    This have been a remarkable movie. It fascinated me as a viewer of how crows can be this smart by observing us human in this world. Although we may have refer them as one of the most frightening creatures on earth they have actually showed us how marvelous they are. Who knows we may use them someday in the future. I also wish and refer that scientist should continue studying these marvelous creatures as we come to learn them as wonders of our world!

  • Olivia

    My comment above is the fourth on made on Oct. 25th.

    I’d like to echo the Nov. 23rd comments of Roberta. I agree that we have an obligation to find ways to study animals by NOT interfering with their lives and their habitats. We don’t like it when they interfere with ours.

    Also, thanks to barelyb for mentioning that birds do not like anyone staring directly at them. I will avert my gaze from now on when I feed the sparrows and doves in my front yard and the crows and grackles at the “Y” and the track.

  • zook

    Very interesting!
    I’m from the mt. shasta,Ca. area and we have ravens.The ravens have learned that cars can crack black walnut
    shells,so they will place the walnuts on the road just off the center line and wait for cars to crack the shells for them.
    I always try to lend them a hand….uh tire….

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  • Donna Gratton

    I have two wild crows that come to my house and yard every morning at 8:00am. I feed them. I just need to know about them. They have been here for about 4 years now. They don’t bother any People or other birds. My yard and the feeder where they all eat together and all get along. Starlings, Juncos, sparrows, Flppers, Squirels and of couse crows. In the spring they have babies and then I have 4 or 5 crows.

    I need to know more about them and how else I can communicate with them. Sort of. Please let me know.

    I love them. Donna Gratton

  • bw

    heather is hot. couldn’t stop watching after i started the show. unfortunately it’s now 230am. awesome work!

  • Julian

    Where is it? I’m getting a blank window.

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  • Dreamcass

    I actually thought the comment, “I hope he chokes on it,” was pretty funny.
    I mean, how would YOU feel if you had to climb all those trees and run all around Seattle wearing a silly mask and holding a big antenna for months while people stare at you funny, only to discover that day by day all of your research subjects are being eaten, senslessly shot, and run over. Of course hawks have to eat, but did it have to eat THAT crow? If anything, his comment shows that researchers are human and not just science machines. If the researcher had killed the hawk out of retaliation, that would be unprofessional, but a joke or passing comment expressing frustration is not something anyone should be raked over the coals for! If you all get a sense of humor and stop nitpicking everything people say and judging them for it, you will probably live a longer, healthier, stress-free life!

    Anyway, crows have been one of my very favorite animals for many years. Birds in general are amazing, though. I personally have observed killdeer ‘burying’ their dead chick by weaving its body deep into the grass. It was too deep for cats or dogs to get to the body, but they left a hole for flies to get through. I disturbed the grave to investigate, but when I came back the next day, the parents had moved the body slightly and weaved it even deeper into the grass. I was truly astonished that some birds not only bury their dead, but maintain the grave and visit it every day! It seems reasonable to me then that more intelligent bird species such as crows would hold a ‘funeral’ of sorts.

  • Emily Murphy

    This is a very amazing and informational episode. I had no idea that crows were so smart! i don’t see many where I live,though

  • Shelia

    Fascinating! Many year’s ago a young family member caught a crow and his father used a cage with a hinged door to put him in. They had the bird for a few days and one day after feeding the crow peanuts, the boy forgot to fasten the door. The crow opened the door, but before he flew off he made sure to take the peanut with him!
    I disagree with the idea put forth that all this instinct and personality and cleverness is the result of evolution. Rather, the grand creator and source of dynamic energy and love is surely evidenced by the abilities displayed by the fascinating crow. Talk about giving credit where credit is due!

  • DeForest Ranger

    Having spent some fifty years of my life in active observation and study of the Corvids, the work these researchers are doing touches me deeply. Highly intelligent birds, Crows and Ravens have been the subjects of too much “bad press” in history. Thank you, PBS, for presenting them in the manner they deserve.

  • Lorelei

    I’ll never understand why human scientists fail to grasp that humans aren’t the only ones who communicate not only with ourselves but our children. Its irritating and makes the human race look ignorant. As far as I am concerned animals are not only smarter but communicate better. After all animals have been on this planet longer than we have. It’s not the crow or the wolf destroying this planet its us. Why don’t you study why we as intelligent beings are destroying our only home, planet earth.

  • ruth rice

    my father brought me a baby crow when i was 10 years old, “edgar.” i hand fed him into adulthood. he dive bombed blond girls, pulled the clothes pins off my neighbor’s line, and when i would hide and call him, he turned over leaves and pebbles looking for me. he could say his name and steal liver from my sister’s bobcat, (desert children have odd pets.) he was my best friend, and i still call the crows i see now, looking for a relative.

    thank you for this reaffirmation of what i already know; they are smart rascals!


    for years I called the sky
    to return the crow,
    weeping charcoal
    from child eyes
    shoulders twitching
    with tears
    and dreams of flight,
    the soul of me, gone

    now an old woman,
    i watch his wild cousins
    pulling down the sun
    and turn up my face
    for the one voice
    to make me whole

    ruth l. rice

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  • Richard

    Just happened to stumble across this presentation this evening here in Seattle as it aired on CBC Vancouver (”The Nature of Things”) and not sure how I’d never heard of it until now other than just being out at sea for 4 months all last Fall. Totally amazing!! I think the most jaw dropping moment was with the nuts: not just crows figuring out the exact perfect height from which to drop a walnut or any other kind of nut on the pavement of a street to crack it open but not smash or lose it, rather, patiently waiting for the traffic light to turn RED before dropping the nuts at all so cars wouldn’t run over and smash them or risk they themselves from getting run over. Now, if we could just get someone, anyone, a collective of someones in Congress this smart in these trying times, we might actually get something positive and constructive accomplished. Vote crow in 2012! Go Corvids!

  • Frances

    A wonderful opportunity to learn – But I had the feeling watching the hunt for the last crow – parent shot, siblings dead – young and alone – still to grow up and perhaps searching for a good safe home and a new family – Yes, they really are like us – and we don’t really understand what this means. May we learn to encounter all of life with respect and care. Thank you.

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  • Terri

    Great show.
    Would you believe my cat watched the ENTIRE show with me online? She crawled out of my lap, perched by the speakers, bobbed and weaved her head, occasionally patted the screen and stayed attentive until the very end!
    Thanks Nature and PBS.

  • kirt wortman

    I recently watched natures program on crows. It made my day !. I had a crow of many years , He was a family member and very much loved . Never caged , and was always free to come and go as he pleased . I learn many life lessons from this crazy bird. . How such a small package ,delivers so much love of life . After many years , coming back every spring . he passed away ( west nile) at home . His mate stops by every now and then as if to just says hello and still missing him ,as I do! these birds are amazing !. thanks for the great nutares programs pbs !

  • Karen

    Magpies also have ‘funeral’s’ for their mates. I’m embarrassed to say it, but years ago, my father shot one on the farm (magpies an undesirable status in the farming community, much like crows). Mom recounted how the remaining population came and stood in a circle around it for a period of time before leaving. Needless to say, the rifle was never used against a bird in our yard again…

  • Will

    Wonderful show. I had to come online to watch it again.

  • Fred

    A month ago I saw a crow dying on the sidewalk with a trail of feathers down the street and a murder of crows cawing in the trees. I find it odd that the crows in the Washington experiment seemed fine when they saw someone who had previously banded them not wearing a mask but got excited when they saw someone who had previously banded them wearing a mask. Maybe they just didn’t like the mask?

  • Colleen

    Loved the program, but could someone clarify: That last crow who “recognized” thr mask and gave a warning call–did he see the mask as a baby bird? I know they said the young were taught to be aware of the mask, but it wasn’t clear to me if each young bird had seen the mask face itself. Obviously if they hadn’t, then I’m going to be ten times more impressed!

  • Sonya Lindee

    I loved the crows. I really hate the problem of the plastic hangers. I hope I’m not being too goofy in recommending maybe after removing the nests that have hangers they spray the site with skunk or pepper spray. It would probably wash off after a couple of rain showers but the association of a stinky place to a line pole might stick.

  • William

    I loved this episode, “A murder of crows”. I am a bird lover and have always been fond on these beautiful black birds. As I watch this I am amused by their intelligence. One trait discussed in this episode is their method of communication. One loud voice for the community and a quieter voice for the ones close to them. I used to raise budgies. They are the same. A loud voice, and a very quiet sublime voice when they are relaxed. I think this may be a general bird trait.

  • maria p.

    I was touched by a baby crow about 5 years who fell out of his nest and couldn’t fly. I brought him to a sanctuary to learn to eat and fly and then brought him back to the neighborhood where I found him. I have never been the same since. That bird never forgot me and came back even after I released him. I started feeding his flock and before I knew it they had overwhelmed me but their intelligence is beyond anything I have ever known. I will never be the same again and will always love crows. It is not easy for me to watch this film because there are parts that make me very sad even though I understand it is part of nature. I am heartened by all of the posts from people who love crows. It makes me happy because I know too many who hate them out of pure ignorance.

  • Brian

    Your site isn’t loading the video, it keeps saying something about “The selection is not currently available.”

    You might want to contact your network support team and have the problem dealt with.

  • Frank Luke

    To learn about the remarkably smart Papuan crow was a real mind-blower. It makes “bird-brain” take on a whole different meaning. Ordinary crows are not as smart but the Papuan crow must have gone to Crow U!!

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  • Margie Mitchell

    What a wonderful video, its about time, that we all realize, that we are not, the only intelligent ones!

  • hector dueno

    Native Americans knew a great deal about crows because “Indians” spent time looking at Nature and even worshiped many animals. We “Indians” are happy {IMHO} to have been in the forefront of nature study.
    Thank you a great presentation albeit Eurocentric .

  • therm

    As with any “thing” humans have made an opinion of (themselves, crows, the earth, etc.), those opinions are made prior to learning very much about those “things”. We tend to jump to a conclusion based on minimal data input, and then assume that it applies to all types of those “things”, and then leave it at that. This has lead to us learning things too slowly, and made it harder to get to the truth. But hey, as the superior life-form of this planet, why bother with anything more, since crows are just stupid birds, and evolution has so many missing links, god obviously made the earth. Why wait for any data?

  • Michael

    We had a pet raven, “Black Bart”, for many years growing up in So. Calif. He was very smart, knew a few words and was hassled by crows when he was out of his large outdoor cage. Many in the neighborhood knew him (he sometimes found keys or other shiny objects to steal) and he was a delight.

  • hyrum

    those people, with those specific voices, are hard core twitchers. Employing those catch techniques is one of the most difficult methods to do so.

  • Sandi

    I loved this episode and will have a lot more respect for crows in the future. Funny though that this isn’t really new information for humans, as we can all remember Esops Fable about the crow. But, I am surprised to hear the researcher claim that there are only 3 animals that use tools – elephants, chimps and crows. What do you call a sea otter opening a clam with a rock?

  • Sue

    Can anyone explain something that I don’t understand from the show? Why are the masked scientists perceived as dangerous? Is it just the difference from a more normal-looking human being? Would a human being wearing an odd hat be just as “dangerous”? Have the masked people done something “anti-crow” ahead of time?

  • The Crow

    Lots of things came to mind while watching this. Firstly, how incredibly annoying these stupid humans are and how invasive they are to these crows. If I was that crow I would be very annoyed with these human geniuses. It’s quite possible that the crow (and possibly other animals) are capable of a multitude of senses that humans have not yet developed? Perhaps they have unique abilities to think and interpret these senses that we have not yet, or perhaps never will be, aware of? What if the crow knows that he’s being tagged and followed by that annoying human? He could easily lose him by flying out of his range, or perhaps, for entertainment value and/or curiosity he just might behave in a different manner that’s completely unique to the situation? Keep them confused!! Better yet, what if the crow can figure out what the idiot humans are after and simply give it to them so they go away, the crow can then go about it’s own business? I think it’s fair to assume that the crow, after being followed by this jerk who then puts on a fake mask, proceeds to test the crow as if the mask somehow transforms the man into something else? It’s the same person, with the same clothes, behaving and THINKING in the same way he was before he put on the mask. I’m quite confident that the crow doesn’t need to see that mans face to know what is INTENTION is. If the crow is capable of higher THOUGHT, then he will know the man’s intent before he actually behaves. I personnally would have sh*t on that guy every day…

  • Dan

    Sue: I think they mentioned at the start they had captured all of crows in the area at some point. So I’m guessing they captured the crows while wearing the masks, so the crows know that those people wearing those masks are the ones that captured them.

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  • hyrum

    OK come on!! this has gone on long enough, I won’t agitate programmers or writers or journalists to the point where they send out a crow-like APB on me and then lets just put back all the correct information, everywhere it belongs and we can all slowly walk away.

    I’ll start, and I hope it doesn’t start the whole cycle all over again, but the bird using the stick to get the meat, is a Raven, crows are the birds that when the piece of meat was tied to the string just kept grabbing it and flying off only to get the living heck jerked out of them when the slack ran out. And they continued doing it until some other food distracted them.

    Now come on, this has gone far enough, what if some poor kids used this information to do a science report and failed it because his teacher knows crows. This is exactly why we need to be more responsible with our words (OK it’s me, I need to be more careful with my words, can we please go back to the days when Corvallis is spelled with a V and the Declaration of Independence was due to the founding fathers making a pact with Zacharias), because a little mix up like confusing a raven for a crow, and the next thing you know there is a flawed science report by some innocent fledgling twitcher.

  • Dimitri mindak

    The most annoying and NASTY birds on the planet. Apart from not shutting up and waking me up at 6am I saw them eating a baby pigeon and that broke my heart. I chased them away but the baby pigeon was already dead and cut open by these nasty nasty awful birds. I get so happy when I see a dead crow on laying upside down on the side of the street with its legs up. They learned to hate me and the feelings are mutual.

  • Malisa Mcaleese

    Impressive! I am amazed at how well you use words to get your point across. I would be interested in reading more of your work.

  • Natalie

    ugh D: i wanna watch this! but its not avalible in my country -.-

  • cynthia peters

    Ravens are my friends they find me and talk to me but I don’t understand them of course thank you I really enjoyed this

  • Jada

    This changed my whole view of crows!

  • bt

    I enjoyed the show. I welcome my corvid neighbors, noisy as they are and enjoy seeing them dogfight for a good place in the tree grove or sending out a squadron to attack a coopers hawk flying too near. While waiting for a Frisco USA streetcar at 6am near the beach with 3 story apartments I noticed a big crow on the roof. A cat was stalking a bird in the street who flew off and the poor crippled crow flopped down in the street back to the cat. It started creeping up when suddenly the crow spun around all feathers fluffed up and yelled. Then it took a few hopd at the cat who froze and then turned and fled to the underside of a car. Feathers fluffed the crow marched up and down giving great cries. It seemed to have no reason to do this except to amuse itself at the expense of the cat. Sometimes the flock completely covers the roof of nearby motels and homes and seem to be pecking at something in the rain gutters or on the roof….I don’t know what. A co worker from Mississippi said when he went in the woods empty handed he saw many crows but they’d disappear when he had a rifle. The show on ravens is also terrific

  • John Kirk

    My father ran a gas station back in the 1970’s. He raised a baby crow and taught it to talk. Put it on the back counter in the office for people to see and listen to when they came inside. People would come in all the time and be amazed by that bird. Loved to bring their kids in to see it. We named it “Babe”. Babe was extremly smart. It could whistle and laughed in two different ways. Spoke several words. Babe would say ” Give me a cigar” and crack us up. People would say ” i’ve heard that if you split a crows tounge you can teach it to talk” (which is just an old wife’s tale). I would say “have you ever seen a crows tounge? Not much there to split!” Best pet ever. Have told people over the years that if I had a video camera back then I could’ve won money on the AFV show. If you were ever in Tulsa, Ok. back in the 1970’s getting gas at an old style gas station you might remember seeing ” Babe” the talking crow?

  • Vicki

    I live SE of Seattle, and here is my evening commute, although the
    video doesn’t do it justice, as it’s really LOUD and raucous. I work
    near a rookery that has been here for generations. Someone
    else took the video.


  • Mary M.

    I love all birds, and especially Corvids. This wasn’t complete news to me as I’ve read much on Corvid intelligence, however the program was a pure pleasure to watch. I do think I love Crows just a bit more after viewing this fine episode! Thank you.

  • William Herriman

    Years ago I had a pet crow for several years from a young bird. She was free to come and go. She learned to say about 25/30 words. She also learned habits from are family. She was remarkable! When I left home she also left to join a small group (about 15) of crows in the area). A couple of times when I was v back visiting she came back with a big male to visit and beg for wieners also. They sit on the back porch over hang where I could reach up and hand them a 1/2 wiener. The male could also say hello, so I assumed that he had been a pet also. My pet Jim/Jamie did things that if you not being there, I don’t think that you would believe!

  • Katie

    That Japanese man’s comment about crows waging war was silly. Animals don’t wage war.

  • Lisa Osborn

    This has become one of my favorite programs from Nature. I was just talking to a co-worker about my admiration of the crow after first seeing this program back in 2010. I e-mailed to her the URL for this episode of Nature. When I first moved to the Piney Woods/Woodland Hills of southeast Texas, I would chase the crows (American Crows, which are large birds!) away from the squirrel chow and bird feeders. Now, I welcome them, and leave extra squirrel chow, save scraps of bread, etc. for the crows! One of the interesting things they do is drop kernels of dry corn in the bird bath in order to let them soak and soften, and then come back and eat the soft corn!! They also will dip pieces of drier bread, like pita, in the water before eating it! They can be scamps in that they have discovered how to get one of the bird suet cages off its hook and I have to look for it in the yard sometimes! I have to wire it shut, as they have figured out how to open it! I love to hear their chatter in the forest and wonder what they are talking about, because they are definitely carrying on a conversation! In far west Texas, the Chihuahuan desert, we did not have crows, but had the very large Chihuahuan Raven, instead.

  • BirdNut

    I love corvids. Always have.

    I used to feed a bunch of them when I was a teenager and they would see me walking home and follow me and yell outside until I gave them something to eat. ;)

  • JohnnyB

    Hi fellow lovers of the bird world I have recently had a fun loving crow pass away after nearly eight happy years in
    our home. She had been abandoned early in her life cross billed and unable to fly she developed a means of
    lifting rice crispies by dragging them to her feet whereby she could scoop them up. Her fun thing was to untie my
    shoe laces no matter how tightly I made them, she shared the house and often slept on the backs of our collie
    dogs daring them to eat from her food dish. We used to take her on holiday with us much to the amusement of
    our holiday neighbours. She was much smaller than your American crows and ravens of which I am in awe they
    must be an exciting companion. On a dark note here in Scotland the Scottish National Heritage are going to be
    licencing “Clam cages ” to trap and kill as humanely as possible crows, magpies, Canadian geese, duck and
    anything else not fashionable on our landed gentrys’s domain a sad state of affairs but money talks !
    Thanks for reading keep feeding Gods creatures we need them, goodbye from Scotland UK.

  • Rasheed

    This is an amazing study about crow. I never knew this bird is such an intelligent. after watching this video somehow i remembered a verse mentioned about crow in Quran chapter 5 verse 31. In that the verse explains god sent crow to explain the son of Adam about how to bury his brother dead body.

    “Then god sent a crow who scratched the ground to show him to hide the dead body of his brother. He (the murderer) said: “Woe to me! Am I not even able to be as this crow and to hide the dead body of my brother?” Then he became one of those who regretted.(5:13)”

    Now i understand the intelligence of crow. Seems they had enough knowledge before human and more study would help to understand it better.

  • SaunieInDiego

    Birds matter, ALL birds!

  • V.M.Henry

    I love crows! Even when I knew very little about them. I could see that they were very interactive with each other. I watched the nest of a pair of crows at our local preserve a little while ago. They chased a hawk away. I watched one feed the other. I’d go back every few days and watch the two interact until one day I went back and found one making a loud ruckus in the trees. It keep going on and on. I tried to figure out what was wrong but couldn’t see anything. It then flew down to the boardwalk railing and continued with it’s ruckus. A few minutes of the display of panic I believed I was witnessing the bird flew down to the other side of the railing, picked at the ground, then flew back up to the railing with something in it’s mouth. It pecked at what it had, and cawed frantically for quite a while as I watched. It then flew off and cawed alarmingly from a tree farther down. I walked over to the railing to look on the other side and saw a pile of black feathers.

    Crows grieve .

  • Dee K

    Wow what a outstanding episode (as usual) of Nature. Our neighborhood has a family of crows and they are in your face and a headache. However from this episode I learned too much to hate them anymore.

  • Stina

    I was fascinated by the role of play in the young crow’s intelligence and I would like to relate it to play-based philosophy in early childhood education

  • Stacie

    I always caw to the crows around my house and they always answer back. My neighbor thought I was cuckoo until she heard them answering me back. Now she thinks it’s cool. A couple of years ago, they made a nest in a nearby tree and had a baby. It was so cool to watch him grow and fledge! The thing that cracks me up the most about crows, is watching them sit on a traffic light and “yell” at all the drivers passing by!

  • Peter

    “My” family of four has been with me here in my garden for many years. The fledges of this year’s nest, as well as last year’s, stay on and the older fledge leaves. They are right with me when I work in the garden and they warn if the fox, the bear, or even the groundhog is nearby. And they seem to make fun of me when I try to imitate their calls, chuckling and chortling. Occasionally one will drop a small stick on me. They eat nearly anything but prefer chicken skin and dry cat food.

  • Gloria Trunk

    I am so pleased to find out that I am not the only person who caws to the crows, and I love to hear them answer back.

  • Jerry C

    That programme confirmed everything I’d guessed about crows. Almost everywhere I’ve lived, town or country, I’ve had relationships with crows. The most magical thing that happened to me was when I was 9 or 10, walking along a quiet suburban road in South London I heard a voice say ‘Hello’. When I eventually located the source of the voice I saw that it was a jackdaw. I stretched my hand towards him and he jumped on to my arm and walked up to sit on my shoulder, still saying ‘Hello’. I was going to try to see if anyone nearby had lost him but another boy walked up and the jackdaw flew off. Ever since then I’ve felt an affinity for crows and have cultivated them wherever I live (currently in Texas and Paris, France). They seem much more cautious of people in Texas than in Europe, in my experience. I was horrified to learn about the bird culls in Scotland. Is that just to make the sports shooting ‘better’ ? What does the RSPB say about that ? I’m always a bit cautious about cawing to crows because I’m not sure what I’m saying! I have learned fewer crow calls than the average crow can learn human words!

  • Mark M Garner

    What an awesome Nature program about Crows!! Crows are highly intelligent (as are most animals) and I have discovered that there are numerous ways to communicate with them. I will share some information with everyone that I now know is common knowledge to the Native American Indian as well as most other Indigenous Tribes in the World.

    The Collective Mass Consciousness on the Planet is a continuous Field of Energy that will permit any Intuitive person to communicate directly with almost any animal. I met a true “Animal Communicator” that lives in New Jersey and she has had the gift from a very young age. She can find lost animals anywhere in the world from her home in NJ and she can teach anyone simple techniques to develop the skill. We all have the capability. I do not want to give out her name without her permission, but anyone can find someone like her listed in a “Natural Awakenings” magazine that you can find at your local Health Food Store or Health Club.

    It is also possible to correlate the Number of “Caws” with specific numerological meanings that becomes a mutual understanding between you and the Crows……..Remember, As previously mentioned, Crows are Highly Intelligent!!
    I tend to make things complicated because I am a Earth Scientist that is not very intuitive and very linear in my thinking, but I experimented………. and found that by correlating the Number of Caws with the Symbolic Meaning of the Human Energy Centers(Chakras) in the Human Energy Field…..I could communicate with the crows…….probably sounds crazy to some folks……… but a book that can help people develop a correlation between Numbers and meaning is “Anatomy of the Spirit” by Caroline Myss.

    If you are wondering, I have spent that past 9 years studying the Interrelationship between Science and Spirituality and discovering and verifying the Interconnectedness and Singularity of Consciousness on the Planet (what the Ancient Greeks referred to as GAIA……..aka Mother Earth). There are lots of ways to Interface with Mother Earth; ie….Nature/Animals…., Dreams Analysis…… Synchronicity…….etc etc
    A Great book that can Help teach anyone how to Interface with Mother Earth is “The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life” by Drunvalo Melchizedek Vol 1&2

    Peace and Love to the Crows and All Animals…….They are so much more than we know!!

  • Patty A.

    Thank you, PBS for this outstanding program.

    While awed at the extraordinary intelligence of crows, I cannot claim great surprise.

    For some years I have been observing Canada geese in New York City’s Central Park.

    Like crows, geese mate for life, organize into family groups, grieve over the loss of a mate, have a varied diet, communicate in actual language to each other and are very adaptable to and recognizing of humans. Though I have not seen geese actually use “tools,” they are extremely aware and adaptive to any changes in environment. Both parents raise, protect and teach the young.

    Though crows may well be among the most intelligent animals in the world, it seems other birds possess similar qualities — certainly, geese and ducks do.

  • Scott M Connolly

    The tool making cognitive behavior element of the show was very educative. I have always observed crow in smart behavior, but learned much from your episode. In my prior home in this same neighborhood, a lot with mixed trees deciduous and conifer, and a hilltop western exposure, we routinely had pars of crows. They were long mated (I learned for life) and would have generations each spring; keeping the prior summer’s birth – the yearlings with them. The returned to the yard and the birthing area for imprinting; grouped to return in early spring – almost every year driving off owls and hawks which might endanger their nesting, then they’d begin their spring/summer. They mourn loss by old age as well, gathering solemly like a small murder of several generations. Had noted about 7 generations at my home, but the older primary pair were the top there.

  • Mary Baker

    I missed last nights Murder of Crows, when will it air again?

  • Daniel

    It seems a little strange to say that only primates have been proven to pass information down to their next generation– even stranger to suggest that humans are the only animals to create culture. It seems pretty obvious that most larger mammals pass loads of information down to their next of kin. Cats, for example, don’t even know how to hunt until a parent teaches them, and I’m pretty sure that when wolves are re-released into areas where they had been depleted, they need to rebuild their cultural knowledge of the place, or face starvation. I’m sure some species are better communicators than others, but I’d bet money that most animals pass on information, _and_ remember it.

  • Queenie

    Fascinating! I always thought of crows as noisy and harbingers of bad things to come. Now I am so impressed by them and their intelligence, I want to be their friend! Great show, I really enjoyed it. Thanks, Nature.

  • Birdlover

    I always thought crows weren’t that smart!! I never knew how many years they stayed with their parents. I loved the show. It was great!!

  • fultonk

    Hi Mary,
    You can check your local public television schedule for rebroadcast dates here.

  • Theresa

    Loved this episode on crows. Live in an area with lots of trees and crows. As I type this I hear the family voice they spoke about outside, along with a loud caw. Pretty amazing knowing they are talking. I also have watched in fascination when a squirrel climbs the tree where they have a nest. The crows cry out and crows from all over fly to their aid.

  • LeAnn Morgan

    I listened to your program with great interest. My Dad on his own raised and studied crows years ago. I wrote an article about my Dad that included some of his fascinating experiences with crows.

  • Kyle

    I live in Canada, and I cannot watch your videos because of “right restrictions”??? How ridiculous! Yet I can watch it on iTunes for $1.99 (assuming I want to sign up and give out my credit card information).

  • Shelley

    I Have tried to watch A Murder of Crows serveral times in the last five days – The ad at the beginning plays just fine – but then it stops and will not play the show.

    I really would like to see this.

  • MikeT

    This is ridiculous. I can’t watch it online because of “restrictions” and I can’t even get any re-broadcast info because a box pops up asking for a zipcode. I’m in Canada so I type in my postal code and it tells me “all characters must be in numbers”. Hello PBS – in Canada postal codes have LETTERS and numbers. Could you get with the modern times please?

  • Sheila Keenan

    A most excellent show! We were endlessly fascinated by crows when we saw them roosting by the thousands in Troy, New York, so we created a picture book about these cool corvids. Check out our book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbItnWjrS7M

  • Valerie Thomson

    I work downtown Portland OR in the office building next to which the crows have been gathering in the later afternoons and early morning. When they first started doing this I thought it was bit creepy and walking underneath their poop bombs is quite the gauntlet. After watching this program, I have a completely different view of these amazing animals—thank you OPB

  • Wa

    What is really interesting to me is that seagulls have figured out gravity. Time after time I see them find a clam, fly 20 to 30 feet up in the air, and drop the clam to try to break the shell. Which eventually they do. They even know to drop it on a hard surface, say gravel, sometimes on my concrete driveway.

    Whereas crows, (the smart ones?), have this great example from seagulls; they understand the principle; but they have not grasped the details. They will fly about 6 feet up in the air and sometimes drop the clam on seaweed. What does that say about how smart seagulls are?

  • denise

    click on the “full episode” at the right sidebar to watch video online

  • Catherine

    Very frustrated at PBS’s region restrictions! We’re supposed to be a “global village,” brought together by the internet, and these restrictions simply serve to move us apart.

  • PBS viewer

    It is ridiculous that as a Canadian I voluntarily pay for PBS (during pledge drives), but then I am unable to watch this online because of “right restrictions”. Instead I will take the money I give to PBS and give it to a VPN server so I can actually watch this.

  • Izuru

    Fascinating show.
    I live in Tokyo and watching the crows has become quite a fascination for me when I walk my dogs by the river every day. One day, I chanced upon a mother crow teaching one of her young to fly. He was very frightened by the prospect and his pleading cries for help were quite endearing. I watched the process for over 4 hours as his mother screamed at him, forcing him to fly from branch to branch. The little was so afraid and so timid about it. The mom was persistent and by the end of the day, the little one had acquired basic flying skills.

    There is one crow who visits my garden daily. He / she perches on a broken branch on a tree and peers through the open door into my house, watching me while I work on the computer. After about 10 minutes, she / he flies away.

    We are also having the Crow / Sparrow Wars again this spring. I don’t know what initiates the battles I imagine that a crow or two are stealing eggs from the sparrows. It is amazing to see the sparrows band together and dive bomb the offending crows, chasing them from roof to roof. Also very noisy.

  • N Mueller

    your player sucks! Ads work just fine, the program however wont start at all. LAME!!!

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