Corvids are a group of birds consisting of crows, ravens, jays, magpies, rooks, nutcrackers and jackdaws. They are the largest of the Passerines (perching and songbirds) and are found in most parts of the world. Corvids found in the Bay Area are the Common Raven, American Crow, Western Scrub Jay, Steller’s Jay, and Yellow-Billed Magpie. They are bold and sociable birds, and have played a prominent role in legend and folklore.
Newly-hatched corvid nestlings are highly dependent on their mother for warmth. Because of this, the female of many corvid species remains with the young and depends on her mate for food while the nestlings are with her. Even after fledging, the young stay with their parents well into the winter.
Who’s the smartest?
Corvids are considered to be the most intelligent of all birds, and have the largest brain relative to their body size. They are able to mimic other birds as well as human voices and in lab studies, have been taught to count. Crows have even demonstrated the ability to watch the moving hands of a clock, waiting for the hand to reach twelve, when they would receive a treat! In addition, crows have the ability to recognize and react to people as individuals. Their unusual degree of intelligence has elicited both fascination and fear from humans. Historically, corvids have been portrayed as wise messengers or as omens of misfortune.
As carrion eaters, corvids remove thousands of pounds of road kill and edible refuse every year. Each family group consumes thousands of insects, grubs and caterpillars annually.
Suggestions: Although such attacks can seem frightening, few birds ever actually strike the target of their attack. If possible, stay away from this area until the young have been raised (about 3 weeks). If you cannot avoid walking nearby, wear a hat or slowly wave your arms overhead to keep birds at a distance. Try to keep in mind that the birds are not vicious animals, but are dedicated parents defending their young.
Birds Feeding on Garden Plants
Why? Many birds visit garden areas in search of insects, seeds, and fruit. Favorite foods of the crow family include corn, fruit, nuts, and grains.
Suggestions: Hang flexible mesh netting on seedbeds, vines, berries, and small trees. Netting used on trees can be hung just prior to fruit ripening so it won’t interfere with plant growth. Secure netting at the base and pull tight to avoid entangling and injuring birds.