Meet Gabi. Gabi Mann is eight years old. Every day, she goes out to put peanuts in a number of bird feeder trays around her lawn, and scatters dog food in the grass and among the bushes. It’s a daily ritual she and her very special guests have come to look forward to, and they do indeed come and enjoy the feast.
Gabi feeds crows in her lawn everyday, and in return, they leave her gifts.
This sort of animal behavior is highly unusual, but is a very special relationship she has with the birds, a relationship that started rather accidentally. Back in 2011, she dropped a chicken nugget en route to the house by mistake, and just like that, a crow swooped in and relished the treat. In time, this crow was able to make the connection, and soon was back every day hoping to be fed. Gabi decided to make it a habit, and soon, the neighborhood crows did come.
Every now and then, they leave her little things: a shiny black button. A blue paper clip. A piece of brown glass worn smooth by the sea. (“It’s beer glass”, she says.) An earring. The tiny trinkets and doodads go on and on.
She keeps them in a plastic divider box, each compartment labelled neatly with the time and place the gift was left. (“Black table by feeder. 2:30 p.m. 09 Nov 2014.”) Just before she opens the box to reveal her treasures, she will always give you her rules: You may take a few close looks,” she says, “but don’t touch.” It’s a warning her little brother knows all too well.
Crows are very intelligent birds. they’ve been observed to remember the faces of dangerous humans and pass the information on to their peers, as a way of protecting their herd. They know how to use tools to crack open shells for food and solve puzzles.
They also visit their parents every now and then. and perhaps, the most surprisingly pleasant discovery of all, is that crows know how to play. Here’s a gif of a crow having a good time on a snowy car:
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