A lot of people feed the birds that fly around in their neighborhood by leaving out some birdseed or even keeping a little birdhouse in their garden. However, all most of us get in return is usually a nice view of the birds. For 8-year-old Gabi Mann, Seattle, Washington, it was a little different. She has been feeding the crows in her family’s garden for a long time and in return, she receives little gifts from them.
The precious gifts Gabi receives from the crows are kept neatly inside of a storage box in labeled bags. The labels of these bags are very precise, as Gabi tries to remember all of the details of the gifts she received. For example, the label on one bag that contains a broken light bulb says: “Black table by feeder. 2:30 p.m. 09 Nov 2014.”
Amongst the gifts she’s gotten from the crows are beads, Lego pieces, paper clips, buttons and pieces of foam. Though her favorite gift is a pearl-colored heart, she says: “It’s showing me how much they love me.”
The feeding actually started by mistake, as Gabi had a habit of dropping food. She would, for example, get out of the car and drop a chicken nugget. As soon as she would do so, many crows would come to see if they could get a bite. Since then, Gabi understood that the birds were hungry and she decided to feed them on her way to and from the bus stop, together with her brother.
The crows figured out pretty quickly that Gabi was going to feed them as soon as she arrived with the bus, so they started waiting for her at the bus stop. Nearly all of her and her brother’s lunch was eaten by the crows. However, Gabi’s mom Lisa didn’t mind at all. “I like that they love the animals and are willing to share.” She said.
It didn’t happen overnight, but the whole family slowly became more sympathetic to the crows. Since 2013, Gabi and her mother would feed the crows every day. Every morning they fill the backyard birdbath with fresh water and they leave plenty of peanuts as well as dog food. The crows come flying in and start making noises at them.
This habit was what made the crows eventually start bringing gifts. The birds eat all of the food and sometimes they leave a little present in return. These presents vary mostly between polished rocks, buttons or screws. Pretty much anything that’s (slightly) shiny or pretty and that is small enough for them to carry to the garden. Isn’t that incredible?
John Marzluff, professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington, has the following advice for people who’d like to follow in Gabi’s footsteps: “If you want to form a bond with a crow, be consistent in rewarding them.”
Specialized in crows, Marzluff has done many studies on them and he has concluded that it is very much possible to form purposeful relationships with crows, although gifts are not a guarantee. He has witnessed crows giving gifts to other people, although he never received one himself. Not all presents the crows give are that shiny and pretty, though, Marzluff said: “Some people, their presents are dead baby birds that the crow brings in.”
Gabi has also gotten some filthy gifts in her turn; her mother had to get rid of a rotting crab claw once.
Another one of Gabi’s favorite gifts is a screw, although she doesn’t like to touch it: “You don’t’ see a crow carrying around a screw that much. Unless it’s trying to build its house.”
Gabi’s mom, Lisa, also has a favorite gift: a camera lens cap. It was actually her own lens cap which she’d lost in an alley near her home while she was taking pictures of a bald eagle. She was very pleased to find it soon afterward on the edge of the birdbath.
Initially, Lisa wasn’t sure if it was really the crows who brought the lens cap back but she checked the bird cam and her suspicion was confirmed: “You can see it bringing it into the yard. Walks it to the birdbath and actually spends time rinsing this lens cap.”
The original article was written by Katy Sewall. Also Image credits go to Katy Sewall.
More info: BBC