[Tweeters] A murder of crow

Scott Ramos lsr at ramoslink.info
Sat May 2 11:38:55 PDT 2015


Although I dislike the phrase for its implicit condemnation of the species, a scenario played out yesterday that makes one wonder the cause. Our group of bus birding big day folk were wrapping up the day at Magnuson Park, when we heard a commotion of crows. Thinking this might be an indication of a predator, we looked to see what was happening. In fact, it looked like an altercation among a couple dozen of crows was taking place in the parking lot by Kite Hill. Upon further observation, it was clear that the group, in particular one individual crow, was doing real damage to the victim. The more we watched, the more it became clear that they were very intent on killing the hapless crow, oblivious to a variety of onlookers, of both the avian and human variety. I was able to get some footage of the episode:

https://youtu.be/7liZdySa-IU

Some people may find this video disturbing—you are not required to watch. Suffice it to say that the outcome was fatal for the crow victim.

But, why? Some suggest that crows killing crows could be a fight for superiority between alpha males, but, in most species, this is not usually a fight to death rather a fight to humiliation. Another thought is that the victim may have already been injured and, as an injured animal is often a more likely target of predators, the flock felt justified in removing this vulnerability to the flock. Perhaps the UW group will have additional insight.

Once the victim was no longer alive, the main perpetrator began pulling it apart as if to eat, but a few moments later, it too left the scene. We did a closer inspection then and noticed that most of the damage was to the head, in particular, the area around the eye. With all the damage, it was not possible to see if there were prior injuries. We did ascertain that none of the crows involved were banded.

Scott Ramos
Seattle


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