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We don’t have the sorts of wild kingdom experiences in Seattle, that they have in Alaska, but we do see nature taking its course, from time to time, right out on our city streets.

This morning, while walking the dog, I heard a gawdawful noise coming from around the corner. Naturally, the dog and I had to investigate.


We found two crows playing tug-of-war with a dead rat.

One crow had a tight grip on the rat’s tail, the other crow had its ear. Together, when they flew, the rat was outstretched between the two crows, it almost looked like they were trying to carry the rat across the street.

One of the crows dropped it’s end when I approached, leaving the other crow with the end of the tail in it’s beak. The rat squirmed helplessly as it lay there on the ground. Cautiously, the crows danced around, like prize fighters, with a peck, and a jump, they took turns worrying the rat. Unable to run away, unable to fight, the rat wasn’t dead, but it was clearly destined for bird food.

I went home, inspired by the bear story, and musing about the possibility of video coverage.

Life interfered with the video plan, but I still rode by on my way to work, to catch the end of the story. The rat lay on the grass, on other side of the street now. Its was head twisted back, its guts were spilling out the abdomen. This time, the rat was definitely dead. A crow sat on the grass close by, warily eyeing me as I stopped my bicycle.

I warily eyed the crow.

And I wondered, were the crows really fighting over the rat, like I thought when I first saw them?

Or, were the crows working as a team and intentionally carrying the rat into the street where it would be killed by a passing car?

Read GrrlScientist’s wonderful article about ravens (a close relative of the crow) and you’ll wonder, too.

Comments

  1. #1 Rugosa
    May 11, 2007

    I once saw a pair of crows working a mockingbird nest. While one crow distracted the parents, the other approached from the opposite side of the nest and flew off with lunch. I suspect teamwork.

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