There is a family of crows who live, breed and nest in the trees behind the mountain retreat. Their numbers vary by the season, but average about a half dozen in all, and we have come to consider them members of our family. They warn us when a bear approaches, entertain us with their mating rituals and their antics for a few weeks late in each spring when they teach their youngsters to fly. We in turn leave them food scraps, and it takes only a few minutes for word to get around that there are pizza crusts or a carpet of stale nacho chips for them among the fruit trees in the side yard.
That our crows are smart is beyond dispute. They without question know us. We have seen them use tools, typically sticks that they use to grub for . . . uh, grubs and other insects. They know our dogs and sometimes interact with them, and they gang up on the occasional red-tailed hawk if it gets too close to one of their nests.
Three articles in the March-April issue of Audubon magazine shed light on how scientists are confirming that crows are among the smartest birds in the world.
PHOTOGRAPH © JOEL SARTORE