As someone who regularly feeds crows, I love a good story about birds returning the favor. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of crows bringing presents to the humans who feed them. Plus, the crows I feed have brought me a thing or two in the past.
Stuart Dahlquist is a 56-year-old bird enthusiast who has seen it all when it comes to birds. Still, he was “mind blown” when he received a gift from the crow family he’s been feeding for the past couple of years.
They didn’t just bring him one present. They returned the next day with yet another present!
“The more I think about this the more blown away I become. We’ve been feeding a small family of crows (mated pair and their two year old offspring) for several years now, pretty much whenever they ask,” Stuart Dahlquist shared on Facebook.
“A few days ago they left a present, a twig from our douglas fir tree with a pull-tab threaded onto it. The following day they did it again.”
“This is to my mind completely amazing; not only is it generous, it’s creative, and beyond that still it is art.”
“Crows are amazing creatures and I’ve always felt this way since I was a boy,” Stuart told Bored Panda in an interview. “Birds – all kinds – have been a real focal part of my life; I love watching them, listening to their calls, identifying them…”
Stuart is also there to help any bird in need. “I’m not a real ‘birder’ with high powered binoculars or anything like that but they play an outsized role in my enjoyment of life.”
He’s been feeding this family of crows for the past four years. They reside in a large Douglas fir that’s in his family’s front yard. Stuart takes great joy in watching the family grow and hearing the little ones squawk when their parents feed them.
He started feeding them after discovering two of the babies on the ground below the nest one day.
“One day I found both babies had fallen to the ground, almost able to fly but not quite. We got them into a tree and the parents – pretty angry with us actually – took it from there and the little ones survived. We began feeding them soon after.”
The crow family used to be a family of four, but sadly, the adult female was recently killed by a raccoon – just before the gifts arrived.
Stuart always knows when the crow family is hungry. They often follow him as he walks around the property, “landing on the wires and branches above as I amble along.”
“When we get home they like to land on the fence and wait to be fed. Other times they simply ‘Caw! Caw!’ at us… It’s pretty obvious when they want food.”
So, what does Stuart feed his bird-buddies? High quality cat food! I’ve heard other people suggest the same thing. The key is to make sure the food doesn’t contain corn.
Contrary to popular belief, and the image of scarecrows in corn fields, crows do not like corn.
“The adult male is very distinctive,” Stuart said. “His right leg was injured at some point and didn’t heal properly so he hops on only one foot. I often wish we could do something about it but there really isn’t a way. He gets around just fine otherwise.”
This is far from Stuart’s first love affair with crows. He’s rehabbed several birds and explains how you can tame wild birds when they are very young.
“Buddy – This [pic was taken] right after we found him and were bandaging his broken wing.”
“Since I became an adult, crows have been my companions quite a lot, as well. I had one ‘The Judge’ (named after Cormac McCarthy’s character in Blood Meridian) for ten or eleven years. He was really a wonderful pet and we’d likely still have him if it wasn’t for some raccoons killing him one night.”
“While we had The Judge we also had quite a few rescue crows while he was with us (which we released). There was one rescue that came to us while still very young and he became quite tame. We rehired him to a wild animal trainer and as I understand it that crow appears in movies.”
Stuart never takes any birds away from their parents. Instead, all of his birds were rehabbed due to an injury that would have otherwise resulted in their death, or due to abandonment.
If there’s one take away message he’d like to get across: “Please don’t ever take a chick from its nest.”