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Help, the crows have started a war (1 Viewer)

Johann B

New member
Germany
Hello Bird Forum,

first post, and I'm sure you're going to have a good laugh about what I'm going to tell you. Yes, I know it's totally my own fault but...

So I live in the city and we mainly have pigeons (which I am not fond of) and crows (which i like). I have a small balcony with a wrought-iron balustrade, and three terracotta balcony boxes in which I plant whatever the gardening store has at the time of the year.

At one point - and with hindsight i can't believe how stupid I was - when there was an empty spot in one of the balcony boxes, I put some peanuts (with shells) there, knowing full well that it would attract the crows. I enjoyed watching them as they landed on the balustrade and picked up the nuts. Sadly we don't have ravens in the city, so these crows are the closest we get to that magnificent bird. And they are quite clever and fun to watch.

Going forward, the balcony boxes re-planted, I've taken to squeeze peanuts between two iron bars of the balustrade, and even though these are more difficult to retrieve, no problem for the crows (they sometimes manage to gobble up three peanuts still in their shells at once! see pic).

So the crows and me have a fun time together, I put some peanuts out for them every other day and get rewarded by occasional funny crow acrobatics in picking them up.

Then one day one of the plants from the balcony box - a silver ragwort - had been pulled out and lay on on the ground. I thought, ok, maybe a hapless crow tried to break open a peanut in the balcony box and accidentally threw out the plant. (Even though there are hundreds of crows in a park around the corner, I think it is probably always the same 2-3 individuals that come to my balcony. Maybe it was a newbie this time.) So I stuffed the plant back where it belonged. The same thing happened once or twice more; it was always the one plant closest to the corner where I was putting the peanuts.

A couple days ago, the damage was a bit more, and all three plants from the balcony box nearest to the "peanut corner" lay on the ground. I stuffed them back in, and thought "nasty crows! no more peanuts for you". And stopped putting out any peanuts. Even though just now the temperatures are freezing over night, so maybe more difficult for crows to find other food.

Now this morning, I found ALL my plants from all three balcony boxes (it is winter so it was a couple of christmas roses, silver ragworts, and erica) dug out, hacked to pieces, and lying on the balcony (or even down below on the street). It looked like a battlefield!

Now I know that the crows are clever. Why did they pull out all my plants? There haven't been any peanuts in any of the balcony boxes for months, and there have never been any peanuts in two of them, ever. Were they so desperate for food that they tore out all the plants hoping to find something? Not clever enough to know it wouldn't yield anything? Or were they... taking REVENGE for me having stopped feeding them? Is a crow brain capable of revenge? Maybe I should ask Alfred Hitchcock...

Anyway, now I'm sat here wondering what to do. I definitely want to plant new flowers in the balcony boxes once spring is here. And i like crows. I wouldn't mind continuing to put out peanuts for them but maybe it would be better if I stopped. Anyway I need them to learn that the plants are off limits. Absolutely my fault for ever putting a peanut in the balcony box, sent the wrong signal. But how can I keep them from pulling out my plants - while at the same time not hurting them...? The crows, my plants, and I, is there a future for us together?

Cheers
Johann
 

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txpossum

Active member
United States
Crows ARE clever. I also put out peanuts in the shell for the squirrels. A squirrel would dig a hole, put the peanut in,and get it all patted down. Meanwhile a crow would be walking right behind him, and when the squirrel moved on, the crow would just reach down, grab the peanut, and fly off. Clever, but sneaky! :oops:
 

Tired

Well-known member
United States
I don't think it's revenge. My guess would be that they think, if there are no more plants again, maybe there will be peanuts again. Since you started feeding them when there weren't any plants.

I would keep giving them peanuts, but in a slightly different spot. Move them away from the plants, so they don't try to yank any plants out to look for more. Or put some sort of protective mesh around the plants so they can't yank any up.
 

KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
United States
Crows are smart little devils so they have got to have a reason for what they are doing. At least that's my thinking.
Perhaps they are thinking that there used to be peanuts there so there has to be more down under and the plants get in their way. Very strange Johann!

BTW, a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum (y)

We're glad you found us and please join in wherever you like ;)
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
LOL I've just seen your post Johann. Corvids are amongst the most intelligent of birds.

I think 'memory' is at work here and they must be thinking there's some peanuts buried in the window box.

You are in for hours of amusement watching their antics. Many thanks for sharing some of it with us.

Welcome to Birdforum - I hope you enjoy your time here with us.
 

YuShan

Well-known member
I saw a bunch of Carrion Crows "fighting"(?) today. One was lying on his back and two others were holding him down and pecking him. A few others were watching and occasionally joining in. They were really pulling out some of his down, so it looked like it was quite painful. But after a minute or so they stopped and everything looked OK and without any aggression. I wonder what this is about?
 

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