crow1Lots of crows live around Mudchute. They are truly amazing birds with brains that are big in proportion to the size of their body, about the same proportions as we see in dolphins.

They have 250 or so different calls which implies that they have a language system at work. In fact, we also know that they have different local dialects depending on where they live in the world.  When they meet others with different accents they will copy their sounds, much like we do when we hear a new set of voices.

We know that they exchange information within their groups. For example, we know that they can remember faces for up to 5 years. If someone has been cruel or unkind to them they will gang up on that person to defend themselves.  They also get together and mob predators which threaten their safety.

On the other hand, they form attachments with people who are kindly towards them and they have even known to bring gifts to people who they have made friends with.

They are playful and invent games to play together like jousting or tug-of-war and doing acrobatics as they fly in the sky.

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Crows are well known for using and making tools to do jobs that they need, often combining lots of different bits and pieces to get their tasks done.  They plan how to do special tasks ahead of doing them. For example they will pop pebbles into beakers of water with a floating treat in it that is beyond their reach, this raises the level of the water until their beaks can peck out the goodies. There is also great footage of them sitting on traffic lights over busy roads. They drop walnuts into the road so that the cars drive over them and squish the tough shells, exposing the delicious flesh of the nut. When the lights turn red, they swoop down and peck up all of the edible yummy bits of food. Isn’t that amazing?

They also have invented a medication of sorts. They gather ants and rub them into their feathers and skin so that they release an acid which repels hurtful bugs and microorganisms.

They save the food that they gather, if they have more than enough to eat. And just like we do, they will eat the things that are most perishable first.

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They mate for life and have clutches of between three to nine eggs and take about 20-40 days to hatch. However the juvenile birds don’t leave the family home for many years and they play a role in babysitting for the new baby birds and bringing food to their mother as she incubates new eggs.

When a crow dies, the others gather around it and hold what looks to us just like a funeral. We are not sure why they do this, but it could be that these clever, intelligent, sociable beings need to mourn when one of their number dies, just like humans do.


About Mudchute

Mudchute Park & Farm. One of the largest city farms in London with 32 acres of countryside in the middle of the Isle of Dogs.

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