Why you should never mess with an angry crow
Ravens may be much larger than crows, but when it comes to aggression, their smaller counterparts are almost always the instigators.
A study of interactions between crows and ravens in North America has found that crows are the ‘bullies’ 97 percent of the time, despite being dwarfed in size by the common raven.
Crows often ganged up on the ravens, teaming up in small groups to chase and attack the larger birds.
Australians spend a large part of their spring trying to avoid being mercilessly swooped by magpies, and now crows are getting in on the act.
Crows are notoriously intelligent and largely avoid humans out of fear, but if behavioural changes are anything to go by, the super-brained devils of the sky are abandoning their fear. And they never forget a face.
What appears to be the heartwarming moment two rows remove hundreds of ticks from all kinds of other animals – but animal expert says the birds have a more sinister motive
If you’ve spent much time at all watching YouTube videos of corvids, you’ve likely come across some of the numerous examples of them engaging in the seemingly helpful act of removing ticks and other ectoparasites from all kinds of other animals. The lucky ‘client’ might be a rhino, a sambar deer, or a cow. Admittedly, it isn’t always entirely clear that these crows are being exclusively helpful, engaging in what biologists call symbiotic cleaning. In at least some of these cases, there seems to be a reasonable chance that they’re (also) playing, pestering, or even getting ready to take a bite out of an unsuspecting animal.
In a few cases though, the results of their cleaning work speak for themselves. One recent set of camera trap videos circulating at the moment on social media shows a group of corvids, probably Torresian Crows (Corvus orru), removing ticks from several, somewhat reluctant, wallabies. The ticks have been around for a while, as evidence by their size, and cover large parts of many of the animals’ ears and necks. As the wallabies arrive at a watering station that has been set up for them in the dry summer of southern Queensland, the crows move in. They carefully sidle up to the wallabies while they’re drinking, and then, in one swift movement, a beak flashes out and returns with a tasty, protein-rich, tick.
Symbiotic cleaning, across species lines, is a particularly common practice for fish, crustaceans, and birds. Sadly, one without footage—is another Australian case involving the same species, the Torresian Crow.
At the top of the Northern Territory, on the Cobourg Peninsula, these crows have struck up an unlikely relationship with banteng (Bos javanicus), a species of feral cattle that was introduced to Australia in 1849. Crows landing on the backs of resting banteng. The banteng will then roll onto its side and lift its upper legs—which is not a comfortable or easy posture for a banteng—so that the crow can access the area under the legs and belly.
Banteng, the clients seem not to agree to the treatment at all. Torresian crows aren’t known to have similar relationships with any other mammals, and banteng around the world aren’t known to deliberately expose themselves for grooming by any other bird. Yet this is happening here.
We will never know which crafty individuals struck up this mutualism, how those first awkward interactions took place, how a proposal was made, and how an agreement was reached that such vulnerability was worth the risk. But we do know that this behavior is spreading as more and more banteng and crows around the region get in on the action.
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Video resource: WATOP