Wise Guys

wise-guys-quote.gifCrows can reason, solve problems, and have long memories. They know more about us, and our habits, than we know about them. IDEAS producer Yvonne Gall explores the world of the urban crow and reveals how crows are a lot like us.

Listen to Wise Guys


wise-guys-crows-1.jpgHow is it that crows got such a bad rap? Yes, there's the small matter of West Nile and dead crows being the harbinger of death. Then there's also that Hitchcock fellow who took the meaning of a "murder of crows" literally. And why as we age, can't we embrace and celebrate the inevitable lines on our face instead of giving them the derogatory name of "crow's feet".

While many of us may fear or loathe crows and their corvid cousins (ravens, magpies and jays), there are probably many more of us who are fascinated with these highly social animals. It's a fascination that shows up, not only in our backyards, but also in our myths, songs and dreams. Bring up the subject of crows and like dogs and bears, most people have a crow story.

Ideas producer, Yvonne Gall takes us on a close encounter of the corvid kind and examines whether crows are pests in need of eradication or are simply misunderstood.



John Marzluff, Professor of Wildlife Science at University of Washington, aka Cave Man. It's hard to forget a face like this caveman mask and Marzluff has shown that crows are no exception.

In The Company of Crows and Ravens. John M. Marzluff and Tony Angell. Yale University Press, 2005.

Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from The Urban Wilderness. Lyanda Lynn Haupt. Little, Brown and Company, 2009.

. Boria Sax. Reaktion Books, 2003.

Crow: Encounters With The Wise Guys of the Avian World. Candace Savage. Greystone Books, 2005.

Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens Magpies and Jays. Candace Savage. Greystone Books, 1995.

Ravens, Crows, Magpies, and Jays. Tony Angell. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1978.

Mind of the Raven: Investigatoins and Adventures with the Wolf-Bird. Bernd Heinrich.
Cliff Street Books, 1999.

Ravenson: A Naturral and Fabulous History of Ravens and Crows. Catherine Feher-Elston. Northland Publishing, 1991.


Related Websites

Kevin McGowan is a behavioral ecologist who studies birds, especially the social behavior of crows in Ithaca, New York.

Hacker and writer Joshua Klein talks about the intelligence of crows and his invention of the crow vending machine.

The story of the pitcher and the crow. More fact than fiction.

Oxford Team Discovers Crows Can Use Complex Sequences Of Tools To Reach A Reward


Wild crows in Japan have a refined technique for cracking nuts.



The story of an unlikely friendship between a cat and a crow.

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