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A fellow blogger and I had a little debate about consciousness and awareness in non-human organisms. His view seems to be that humans are largely unique in their capabilities for awareness. My view is that humans clearly have unique talents and abilities, but those capabilities do not intrinsically provide us with greater consciousness or self-awareness. In other words, other organisms, take the crow for example, might be as conscious and self-aware as we are even they are not as intelligent as we are. This post is not so much about the debate on self-awareness as it is about crows.
As I am writing this, I can hear in my backyard a group of crows. After a little chatter, they begin to make the characteristic commotion I usually hear when a cat is making its way through the backyard. By the time I get to the window to check, however, the noise has quieted down and four crows are around a plate of dried cat food. I had put out the plate of cat food and some stale crackers earlier. The crows had been coming and going through the morning first hauling away the stale crackers to dip them in the bird baths. Some crows seem to gravitate more to the bread and crackers, others to the dried cat food. They usually eat in groups. The first crow to spot food will typically call others to join. I think this is partly altruism and partly a safety consideration. Eating in a group while on the ground provides a safety in numbers. More eyes, more ears to see and hear predators. Not uncommonly one of more crows will remain on a perch to be an additional lookout. A sudden noise such as opening the backdoor will make them retreat to the trees. Eventually for reasons of their own the crows of this morning depart with some food remaining.
I have been feeding and watching crows for a few years.