8-Year-Old Girl Feeds Neighborhood Crows, They Thank Her with Gifts

8-year-old Gabi Mann, from Seattle, has some very unusual friends who shower her with gifts almost every day. Ever since she started feeding her neighborhood crows, they began returning the favor and bringing back all kinds of trinkets.

Gabi’s unique relationship with the neighborhood crows began in 2011, when at age four, she was prone to dropping food. Soon, the crows were always watching for her, hoping to get a bite of the crumbs she dropped. As she got older, she began to feed them consciously – she would share her lunch with them on the way to the bus stop. It wasn’t long before crows were lining up in the afternoon to greet her at the stop.

In 2013, Gabi started feeding the birds regularly, instead of sharing her scraps with them. Along with her family, she would fill the birdbath in the backyard with fresh water every day, cover the bird feeder platforms with peanuts and throw handfuls of dog food on to the grass. Soon, the crows automatically lining up on the telephone lines, waiting for their treats.


Once Gabi and her family adopted this routine, they witnessed something wonderful – the crows started thanking them with gifts! Shiny trinkets would appear in the empty feeders – an earring, a hinge, or a polished rock. Gabi has collected every small gift that the crows have given her – including a miniature silver ball, a blue Lego piece, a small piece of foam, a yellow bead, and other such stuff. Each item is individually wrapped and categorised, and they’re obviously of great value to Gabi. “We keep it in as good condition as she can,” she said. Her ‘third favorite’ is a rusty old screw, because “you don’t see a crow carrying around a screw that much unless it’s trying to build its house.”


According to John Marzluff, professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington, anyone can have a similar relationship with crows. “If you want to form a bond with a crow, be consistent in rewarding them,” he said. “There’s definitely a two-way communication going on there. They understand each other’s signals.” He revealed that birds communicate by how they fly, how close they walk, and where they sit. Humans can learn their language and crows can learn their feeder’s patterns and posture. Over time, they may start to know and trust each other. But Marzluff admits that gifts are a rare thing.


“I can’t say they always will (give presents),” he said. “But I have seen an awful lot of things crows have brought people.” And at times, the presents could be rather macabre – like dead baby birds that they might gift a potential mate during courtship feeding. Gabi’s received a few icky items as well. Her mother had to throw out a rotting crab claw once.


Gabi’s mom Lisa is equally interested in the crows – she regularly photographs the birds and studies their behavior and interactions. And something amazing happened just a few weeks ago – the crows returned a lens cap that she had lost while photographing a bald eagle in the neighborhood. “I’m sure that it was intentional,” she said. “They watch us all the time. I’m sure they knew I dropped it. I’m sure they decided they wanted to return it.”

Photos: Lisa Mann

Source: BBC

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