Gabi’s relationship with the neighbourhood crows began accidentally in 2011. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food. She’d get out of the car, and a chicken nugget would tumble off her lap. A crow would rush in to recover it. Soon, the crows were watching for her, hoping for another bite.As she got older, she rewarded their attention, by sharing her packed lunch on the way to the bus stop. Her brother joined in. Soon, crows were lining up in the afternoon to greet Gabi’s bus, hoping for another feeding session.
A couple of years later, Gabi and her sister began setting out food for the crows on a daily basis. It was after this ritual began that gifts started to appear.
The crows would clear the feeder of peanuts, and leave shiny trinkets on the empty tray; an earring, a hinge, a polished rock. There wasn’t a pattern. Gifts showed up sporadically – anything shiny and small enough to fit in a crow’s mouth.One time it was a tiny piece of metal with the word “best” printed on it. “I don’t know if they still have the part that says ‘friend’,” Gabi laughs, amused by the thought of a crow wearing a matching necklace.
There has been ample research done over the past few decades that show that birds, specifically crows, are considerably more intelligent than first thought. As for Gabi’s gifts?
No doubt, Gabi’s collection is quite impressive. She considers them her treasures, and she meticulously stores, labels, and categorizes each object in a bead storage container. One bag contains a broken light bulb with the caption, “Black table by feeder. 2:30 p.m. 09 Nov 2014.” Other objects include paperclips, buttons, earrings, and worn glass. One trinket, a screw, is marked as “third favorite,” because as Gabi puts it, “You don’t see a crow carrying around a screw that much. Unless it’s trying to build its house.”