So, thanks to Janice for forwarding me the following link -- amusingly enough, a BBC story about a local Seattle-area event.
I've also gotten gifts from crows, though only twice, and once that may have been accidental. But the other time there was no doubt: I was walking south along 64th street to meet up with Janice after work, tossing the occasional peanut over my shoulder as I went, which were then swooped on by the very attentive crows in the trees overhead, who carried them off and stashed them, then came back for more. As usual the crows kept moving to get ahead of me, making sure I saw them move across my line of sight, and letting loose the occasional caw-caw-caw, when a crow dropped a chicken bone right in front of me. It was an old, old bone, a drumstick, completely dessicated, and they'd clearly gotten the last bit of good out of it, but there was nothing accidental about their dropping it in front of me. I think they were returning the favor for all the peanuts, but whatever their thinking (and crows definitely can think) there was no doubt about the action.
The key takeaway I get from the article, and personal experience, is that crows are smart birds. They see, and they remember. If something they do gets them the result they want (for example, a peanut), they do it again. I have several populations of crows that know me: the local ones here at Bayview as well as smaller populations around four spots in Tukwila and Renton. I visit two of these spots about once a week or so, but for the others weeks at a time can pass between visits, yet the crows there remember me very well when I do show up. They can also recognize both cars. They have several calls, and if the caw-caw-caw doesn't get them the result they want some will give a little wheedling cry which I suspect is the sound baby crows make to their parents.
So, I'm not the only person in the area to discover how interesting crows are, and how rewarding it is to feed them. They're ungainly compared with the small birds who come up to our feeder (mostly goldfinches, juncos, chickadees, and of course the hummingbirds) but they're also far more interesting.
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