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Hooded Crow Starts a Cat Fight

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I don't often dip into YouTube's waters for material for this blog, but I cannot resist. This post was sparked by something that appeared on NPR's blog: a video of a hooded crow snowboarding down a roof using a jar lid as a vehicle. The headline asked, "Could it Be? A Snowboarding Bird?"

Now, being a bit of a journalist myself, I know that a headline like that is a teaser, designed to incite conversation, and the blog is called "The Two-Way." But come on, people. How can you ask if it's possible that a hooded crow might play? Did we humans invent play? Or is it only for mammals? Any sentient animal can play for no other reason than fun. Birds are no different. Was the young peregrine I saw repeatedly capturing, dropping and recapturing a monarch butterfly planning to eat it? Gee--could it have been playing? A bird??

 Speaking of fun, here's a bird who knows how to manipulate the emotions of other animals for his fun.

So here is one very crafty hooded crow and a couple of very dumb cats.  Watching it, you can almost hear the crow saying, "Hey! He bit your tail! There! He did it again! I can't believe it! The noive!"

And I can definitely hear the crow laughing. I love love love this video, but then I have a bit of a bird bias. (and I think the cats will be fine, once they work out their differences). My dear Charlie used to strut, wings out, tail spread to its fullest, cackling maniacally, when (s)he was highly amused. Here's a post where she's playing, called Candy Wrapper Games.  Watching this crow video is like seeing sweet kooky Charlie again.

For those who wonder, hooded crows are found all across Europe and Russia. And Russian hooded crows may migrate west into Europe in winter.

Don't miss today's first post, Red-headed Woodpecker: The Saga Continues. I know. Two Zick posts in a day?? Never happens. But scroll down to find it. I just had to share this awesome hooded crow.


That is a crow with one wicked sense of humor (after psittacines, corvids are the bestest! :-)

also very reminiscent of this older YouTube video:

What to comment on...gorgeous red head or sassy hooded crow?
Love it.

Oooh. I know you don't like cats, but honestly, I couldn't enjoy the crow with that horrible cat fight going on (and on and on.)

Cyberthrush, I tried repeatedly but couldn't get the vid to play. Rats.

DogGeek, fair enough. Tomcats are pretty darn tough animals. They can make a horrendous noise without doing a whole lot of damage to each other. I freely admit to being able to overlook the flying fur in favor of admiring the machinations of the crafty crow. Sorry if I offended.

It has been my experience that crows , ravens etc are some of the most intelligent birds. I once saw ravens covering bread crumbs thrown by tourists with leaves so that the geese couldn't find them . Then they just waited until the geese left. If that isn't thinking...what is?

The crow is very annoying,it keeps on teasing the cats. Poor little cats.

I'm with you, Julie, knowing the tom cats don't tend to do much damage. That crow is so wily, and so obviously entertained. Sneak and tweak -- hilarious.

Just my two cents from a Crazy Cat Lady...

The crow didn't instigate this, at least not completely; the cats probably would have fought anyway. You can see the black cat trying not to be distracted by the crow as it (the cat) goes after the orange cat. The crow may have possibly kept the orange cat from running when it had a chance, though. (But then, rarely does a cat back down from an incipient fight.)

The real question is, what did the crow get out of it? Why purposefully get involved--which it most definitely did--and risk injury (or worse) to itself? Certainly its behavior in tweaking those cats' tails was totally intentional...

(And I beg to differ about such a serious fight not having consequences. Even half-serious fights can result in some very nasty abscesses and infections, and a well-placed rabbit kick has the potential to do real damage.)

Wise observations from a Crazy Cat (and Bird) Lady--thanks, Amy!

I freely admit, as a bird rehabilitator, to having less sympathy for these toms than I should, and I'm sorry if I've offended anyone. From the speed with which songbirds die of septicemia from cat bites--overnight in some cases, if not treated with massive doses of antibiotics-- I should have remembered that cats get those nasty infections from each others' claws and teeth, too. As I think about it, many feral cats and the "barn cats" in my area always seem to be carrying an abscess of one sort or another. Which doesn't stop them from making more (cats and abscesses).

I also appreciate your observation that the cats were probably spoiling for a fight anyway--something the hooded crow doubtless picked up on. And I think the answer as to why he got involved is easy: it's FUN. Nothing a smart bird like a corvid or psittacine loves more than some real drama, the noisier the better. Charlie's idea of a great time was when everybody was shouting and gesticulating--she'd bob and flap her wings and scream right along.

No doubt that that crow was up to no good! Bit like playing "Chicken" on railroad tracks... Adrenaline junky: why not?

Birds will pluck fur (and human hair) from warm bodies. Mockingbirds will nail an intruding cat faster than, well, than a cat can lick its ear... Behaviors have to start somewhere; wonder if this tweaking is an offshoot of those?

I firmly believe animals (even cats) are far more intelligent and capable of rational thought than we might suppose.

But I also have a healthy dose of skepticism. If this bird wasn't playing (and I'm certainly not denying that birds do--I've watched a vulture, of all things, playing) could it have had a nest or young nearby from which it was trying to distract the cats? It just bugs me that such an intelligent bird as a crow would risk personal injury--unless it really was exhibiting the same death-defying behavior as some humans.

Which then brings up the wonderful point that we aren't so far removed from the rest of the animals on this planet as we might suppose! *lol*

So many questions--!!!

I can't believe how much confidence that bird has!!!!

Nest or young nearby--not in the dead of winter (snow all over the ground).

I think that crow knows just how far to push things and is confident that it's quicker than the cats. And it is--birds have faster neurotransmitters than mammals have, which is why cats have to catch birds by surprise.

Ravens team up to tweak predators' tails and steal prey--one tweaks, and when the mammal (fox, cat) whirls around at the tweaker, a second raven darts in to grab the meat. This behavior probably is an outgrowth of that, but what the bird had to gain from it other than a thrill is the question, isn't it? He comes amazingly close to those teeth and claws, almost as if his swagger will protect him.

We have to step back occasionally and remind ourselves that not all animal behavior is necessarily goal-oriented. The snowboarding hooded crow was after fun, in my view, as is this instigator.

The hooded crow is now my favorite bird.

God forbid a bird should actually strike back at catdom.

The revolution begins now.

I laughed my a-- off at the crow. I had to mute the computer because my boys (inside cats only) came running to see who was fighting. THANKS!!!

Posted by Anonymous January 21, 2012 at 2:59 PM
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