By Vicki Croke
It’s an intriguing headline: “Seattle Girl Befriends Neighborhood Crows, Making Bird Lovers Everywhere Jealous.”
It ran over Audubon online’s story about Gabi Mann, an 8-year-old girl in Seattle who has befriended a group of crows in her neighborhood by putting food out for them. Gabi and her family report that for the past couple of years, in an exchange—or just out of pure friendship—the birds have been leaving the girl small, often shiny items, which the family says are gifts: small pieces of brown glass, a bead, a button, a paper clip. Her favorite is a little heart pendant.
As soon as I read that story, I wanted to know more about it, especially because I had had a fun friendship years ago with a group of crows in my neighborhood, a friendship that had been coached by Kevin McGowan, a crow expert with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
First, I read what John Marzluff, a crow expert and author, and professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington, had to say about this to the BBC News Magazine. He pointed out that crows do give gifts among themselves and that they certainly interact with people and quickly learn things when food is involved:
“If you want to form a bond with a crow, be consistent in rewarding them,” advises John Marzluff, professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington. He specialises in birds, particularly crows and ravens…