Stuart had never seen anything like this before. He was beyond confused. He left the treat in the tree because he wanted to help, but never did he want or expect anything in return.
But the crow was determined to give back. What it left him was unlike anything he could ever have imagined. But this was only the start of many surprises.
Stuart Dahlquist was 56-years-old. Since he was a kid, he loved birds. He didn’t go bird-watching with heavy gear or anything, but he found them fascinating and beautiful.
When he saw a murder of crows, he was reminded of how much he enjoyed the presence and peace of these birds. Crows had always been his favorite, but he didn’t know that much about them. But he was about to learn a lot.
He felt like birds were his companions. He even had a pet crow at one point who he named ‘The Judge’ based on Carmac McCarthy’s character in Blood Meridian.
It was one of his favorite shows of all time. He had watched it countless times before. He had The Judge for over ten years, and he loved every single second of it.
A lot of people don’t know this, but crows are extremely intelligent. It is believed that a crow will always remember the faces of those who have wronged them, and they hold grudges.
They are calculated in their approaches when it comes to getting their revenge. They will go above and beyond to make sure they avenge themselves. Not many people have experienced the giving and kind side of crows, but Stuart was about to.
Stuart never doubted how magnificent and majestic these creatures are. He spent a lot of his time and focus on birds, especially crows.
Speaking about his love for them, he has stated, “I love watching them, listening to their calls, identifying them, and helping them if they need help.” He explained that he wasn’t one of the “real birders” with high-power binoculars, but that wildlife played a big role in his life when it came to his hobbies.
Stuart remembered the time he rescued a very young crow that became relatively tame.
Because of how tame he was, he was sent to a wild animal trainer. The crow was so intelligent that he earned himself a bunch of movie roles. Stuart helped because of genuine concern, not because he wanted anything out of it.
Not Around Anymore
Stuart knew that The Judge would still have been around if raccoons hadn’t gotten to him and killed him one evening.
While he still had The Judge, he also had a bunch of rescue crows. He would release them back into the wild once they were nursed back to perfect health.
Stuart warned people to never take a chick from its nest. None of the crows he had ever rescued were snatched from their parents. He explained, “They birds came to us when they were injured or had fallen from their nest and could not be returned and had been abandoned.”
Usually, when baby birds fall from their nests, they will be abandoned by their parents.
It was just another day when Stuart made his way into his backyard. But that was when he noticed that something was wrong. Two chicks had fallen from their nest and were on his grass. Their parents were unable to get them back into the nest.
They were almost able to fly, but they were running around the yard while their parents squawked at them. The parents were noticeably distressed as they watched them attempt to fly back to the nest.
Doing His Best
Stuart did what he could to help. He caught the two birds and placed them back into their nest. He then placed food and water underneath the tree, in case they fell again.
The parents were still distressed but quickly helped by feeding the two babies.
His Adopted Family
Stuart and this family of crows have been in each other’s lives for nearly four years now, and he has been nursing and feeding them since.
‘They nest in a large douglas fir tree in our front yard, and we could hear the babies when the parents would feed them,’ he said. He was doing what felt genuine to him, and due to this, the birds decided to return the favor by doing something unique for him.
Dahlquist kept leaving snacks at the fir tree base without expecting anything in return. However, the crows decided to show their gratitude with a bit of a gift. The first gift was a bit confusing, said Dahlquist, because it was sitting right in the middle of the area where I tossed their food.
So at first, he did not pay it any attention, he assumed it was dirt or something that had made its way from outside, but soon he would find out that was the first of many.
Dahliqiust recalls how he noticed that it could be a gift because he is sensitive about trash going where it belongs. He likes making sure that rubbish is adequately sorted and away from animals.
He says the pull tab being threaded onto the sprig of fir was not a normal thing to see, and so he decided to hang onto it until he could for certain make sense of what it is supposed to be.
The next day Dahlquist was shocked to find another twig with a soda tab in the same spot. ‘this is when it dawned on us that the crows were making and leaving them.’
He says he had rehabilitated and released several injured crows in the past but had never received a thank you so explicitly back. It took him a couple of days to wrap his head around just how amazing this was.
Bonded For Life
Dahlquist says he realized that not only were the crows leaving gifts, but they had created something beyond, in fact, they were crafting. Since the exchange of gifts, Dahlquist’s relationship with his crow neighbors has only gotten stronger.
He says they even follow him when he walks, landing on the wires along the way. The adult male is very amiable and will sometimes fly within a few feet, swooping by to say, ‘here I am!’ However, although this story is incredibly wholesome, relationships with crows do come with drawbacks…
Children And Animals
It’s difficult to predict just how young children will react to animals. Some children are frightened, some are a little too enthusiastic, and others will form genuine and inexplicable friendships with them.
Eight-year-old Gabi Mann is one such child. She formed an incredible relationship with the crows that lived in her garden. But nobody expected the Mann family to be sued for it later.
A Strange Relationship
Gabi’s strange relationship with the crows in her yard began when she was just four years old. She was sitting in the garden eating chicken nuggets when one of the morsels rolled off her lap.
Gabi’s mom was surprised to see an opportunistic crow grab the nugget and share it with the rest of the flock. Now that the crows knew little Gabi was a source of food, they wouldn’t leave her alone.
Years Go By
As the years went by, Gabi and her brother continued to share their packed lunches with the crows that hung around the bus stop, just outside their home.
By 2013, Gabi and her brother had gotten into the habit of making a morning routine out of feeding the crows. They would feed them peanuts, give them dog food, and gave them fresh water. Their mom thought the routine was enduring, but she had no idea what was to come.
The Crows Gather
Their mom, Lisa, said she hadn’t minded that her children were sharing their lunch with crows, but
the routine Gabi and her brother had formed came with a problem.
Because the children were feeding the crows every morning, it wasn’t long before the food attracted more crows. Eventually, the telephone line above the bus stop was laden with them – all squawking and clamboring to get a morsel. Then, something unexpected happened.
Before long, Gabi and her brother started to notice something strange. The crows were obviously grateful for the food they were given, so they started to express their gratitude in the most unusual way.
The crows started to bring little treasures to Gabi. She noticed that they started carrying small, shiny objects in their beaks.
The crows routinely cleared the feeders of dog food and peanuts and began leaving shiny trinkets in return.
An earring, a polished rock, a hinge, beads, buttons, lego pieces – anything that was shiny and small enough to fit in their beaks. Soon, there were so many gifts that Gabi began to keep them in a bead storage case. She even had a favorite.
One time, the crows brought a tiny piece of metal, engraved with the word ‘best.’ This gift became Gabi’s favorite. “It’s showing how much they love me,” she told BBC in an interview.
“I don’t know if they still have the part that says ‘friend’,” she said, laughing at the thought of a crow wearing the other half of the pendant. John Marzluff, a professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington, weighed in on the crows’ behavior.
A Special Relationship
Marzluff specializes in bird behavior – particularly that of ravens and crows. “If you want to form a bond with a crow, be consistent in rewarding them,” he advises.
Marzluff and his colleague Mark Milled actually did a study on the relationships between crows and the people who feed them. What they found was astonishing.
hey Understand Reciprocity
Marzluff and Miller were astonished to find that people and crows can form strong, personal bonds. “There’s definitely a two-way communication going on there,” Marzluff says. “They understand each other’s signals.”
“I can’t say they always will always give presents,” Marzluff admits, “but I have seen an awful lot of things crows have brought people.” Gabi’s mom was so surprised by the crows’ behavior that she decided to document it for herself.
Charting Their Behavior
Lisa decided to track and chart the behavior of the crows her daughter fed by photographing them and studying their habots.
But, one day, she found her efforts hampered when she lost the lens cap for her camera in a nearby alley. Then, the crows did something even more astonishing than just bringing more shiny gifts.
Helping Her Out
Lisa was flabbergasted when she found the lens cap in the birdbath in her yard. In disbelief, she checked the birdcam she had set up in the garden and saw something that made her head spin.
The footage revealed that the crows had indeed returned the lens cap – but, not only did they bring it back, the footage showed one of the crows rinsing it off in the birdbath! However, not everyone is happy with the situation.
Lisa’s neighbors on both sides jointly filed a lawsuit against her, and they were seeking $200,000 in damages. Additionally, they were seeking compensation for emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of property.
The neighbors claimed that the Mann family’s feeding practices attracted as many as 100 crows at a time – along with the rats that came after to look for leftover morsels in the feeding tray. Could they possibly win?
“Large numbers of birds swarm the feeding operation daily, leaving behind dirt, feathers, peanut particles and shells, feces and urine on the surrounding properties,” the neighbors asserted.
“No one wants to be trapped living inside an Alfred Hitchcock horror movie,” attorney Anna Johnsen said in a Seattle P-I article. “This is a residential neighborhood that was not designed to host a large-scale wildlife feeding operation.”
The ridiculous lawsuit went to court and the Mann family had no choice but to settle for an undisclosed amount of cash.
Gabi was now also restricted to providing no more than four ounces to the crows per day for eight years. Gabi’s story did make international news, though, and it highlighted the surprising intelligence of these birds.
As Marzluff points out, crows may not always give humans desirable gifts. Sometimes, they will bring trinkets that they think another crow would like – like a rotting crab claw or dead baby bird.
Gabi was the recipient of one such ‘icky’ gift, which her mom promptly threw out. One thing’s for sure, though – crows are amazing because they are the only animals to give gifts to humans.