Posted by: atowhee | March 29, 2014


Here’s a story sent to me by my friend Nancy Keane who lives in San Francisco. Verbatim: “Have to tell you what happened with our neighborhood crow. I’ve been leaving bread out on our deck railing (second story) for the crows, and they come and get it every day. There’s a family of about 6 of them in a tree I can see several yards away. Today I looked out on the deck railing and just to the left of the bread pieces was a pile of individual pieces of moss with dirt attached to them. It was individual pieces, about 8 of them, each one about 1/2” across. It probably came from the garden. It could only have been left by one of our crows, and it must have taken at least 8 separate trips back and forth. Isn’t that remarkable! It’s like I was leaving a gift for her and she was bringing back a gift for me. Can you think of any other reason it would have done that? It hasn’t been moved all day, it arrived some time midmorning when I was out.

“In the past I’ve left shiny buttons and things like that out there and they’ve been taken, and once a small china frog I had in the deck ornamental fountain was moved up on to the deck rail. I think the crow at first thought it was alive and tasty and then when it realized it was china it left it there.

“These birds are so remarkable! What do you think the moss was about?”

I told her I thought it was a fair exchange in the mind of the crow…they may well use moss in spring to line nests and make them softer.

Here’s what Birds of North America online says about how Crows line their nests: “Lines nest with what is available: fine weed or bark strips (cedar, grapevine, cottonwood [Populus sp.], willow [Salix sp.], maple [Acer sp.], rarely feathers, hair (commonly horse, cow), fur (skunk, rabbit, and squirrel), fleece of sheep, grasses, twine, mosses, plant stalks, pine needles, rootlets, paper, and leaves.”
The adaptable crow will make the basic construction out of sticks or small limbs, butt end out…but if there are few trees they will use grass or coarse weed stalks. Sometimes nests are held together with mud if the nest-building season coincides with muddy conditions.


  1. I remember a family back down in Sandy Hook, Mississippi in the late 1940s who had a talking crow. They kept it in their country store.

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