It was primarily during my travels in Poland that I fell in love with corvids.
What are corvids?
Corvidae is a cosmopolitan family of oscine passerine birds. Within the family resides some common birds whose names you will likely recognize:
In common English, you’ll usually hear Corvidae birds referred to as “corvids.” Many corvids are mistakenly called “crows” as an umbrella term (like in the painting shown above) even when they actually are not crows.
In Poland, I Observed Many Corvids
I recently shared a story about the magnificent Eurasian Magpie. I had never seen a magpie before so getting to observe and learn about them in Warsaw was really fascinating.
I learned about how they hold funeral ceremonies for one another! They are also freakishly skilled at speaking. Who knew?
To that same point, I have really never paid much attention to crows either.
Prior to learning more about the Hooded Crow, I wasn’t really even sure what differentiated a “raven” from a “crow.”
Here’s what originally prompted me to learn more about crows.
A Hooded Crow in Warsaw Decided to Be Brave Around Me
Perhaps it is insulting to be using the word “brave” in place of “smart.”
I always carry food for birds.
In Poland, it was difficult for me to locate birdseed for sale so I purchased a little package of unpopped popcorn kernels at a local supermarket to use instead. Each morning, on my way out, I’d stop to feed the local birds… which, in that area, was basically just pigeons.
The magpies had little interest in approaching me. They were quite skittish.
Common pigeons (which are technically rock doves), to no one’s surprise, are very opportunistic scavengers. They would take every chance they got to gobble up more corn niblets, sunflower seeds, or whatever else came their way.
Make Way for the Hooded Crow
One morning, while feeding the pigeons, a crow swooped down and started collecting as many popcorn kernels as it could store within its beak.
Right in front of me.
Watch the Hooded Crow in Action
I watched as it walked around pushing its beak into the ground.
My initial thought was that it had eaten the corn and now it was looking for insects in the soil. It wasn’t until I caught sight of a yellow kernel dropping into the brown mud that I realized the hooded crow wasn’t foraging for food… but searching for hiding places!
(I tried to record the tail-end of it doing this in the video I’ve shared above.)
The crow would walk around, bury pieces of corn, and then quickly fly away. It was so intentional and strategic. It was really fascinating to watch it firsthand.
Crows Hide Their Food for Future Meals
I set out to do some research and it turns out that it is common practice for crows to hide their food for later. They can remember exactly where they’ve chosen to place it even when it is underneath the ground.
A book I once read explained how crows will oftentimes bury food in a yard and then cover it up with leaves or grass to keep it hidden. They even use trees and rain gutters for a more elevated hiding place. Just like squirrels, they retrieve the stored food as needed.
The Hooded Crow can mainly be found in Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
Here’s a video uploaded by someone else showcasing another hooded crow displaying this same behavior:
Crows are brilliant.