Looking at eight-year-old Gabi Mann”s carefully organized and catalogued collection might make you a bit confused at first. Like any other, the items in the collection are labeled, with the date, time, and location where they were found.
But this collection consists of seemingly disparate things. Buttons, nuts and bolts, pieces of sea glass, bits of jewelry, paperclips, and more are all meticulously curated.
The items look fairly plain, but for Gabi, these odds and ends are precious gifts.
Back in 2011, Gabi was four years old, and, like many four-year-olds, had a habit of dropping her food. When this happened outside, the local crows were quick to snatch up her fallen food. Instead of being alarmed, Gabi began to feed them, sharing her school lunches.
Crows, who are known for their intelligence, began to wait for Gabi”s school bus to return, and Gabi was happy to share.
Gabi”s mother, Lisa, didn”t mind this, and by 2013, Gabi, her mom, and her brother began making the feedings a daily event. From then on, at the same time every day, they”ve filled the birdbath with water and laid out peanuts and dog kibble in the backyard.
The crows, who have come to expect this, line up on the phone wires and caw encouragements.
Some of the treasures the crows gave to Gabi. They might not look like much, but Gabi enjoys them.
After the routine was established, the gifts started appearing.
After clearing out the feeder, the crows would place shiny little objects in it: earrings, glittery pebbles, and anything small enough to fit in a crow”s beak. Some of the gifts are strikingly pretty, such as a pearlescent heart, Gabi”s favorite item.
Of course, crows” taste in acceptable gifts doesn”t always mesh with humans”.
While both species can agree that shiny is good, the crows have brought some gifts that are the equivalent of an ugly sweater from a well-meaning relative. She once received a rotting crab claw. Gabi keeps each item carefully stored and catalogued with when and where the items were picked up.
Specialist John Marzluff of the University of Washington says that gift-giving is common in crows, and that the grosser items, like pieces of dead animals, are items potential crow mates give to one another.
Marzluff also says that crows are known for developing personal relationships with animals of all species, including humans.
He says there is definitely a two-way communication happening between Gabi and her crows, and that they are learning each others” habits.
Gabi”s mother says she never really paid attention to birds until Gabi started interacting with them. And it seems the crows have taken a liking to her, too. She once lost a camera lens when shooting a photo in the neighborhood. The next day, she found it sitting on the edge of the birdbath. “I”m sure that it was intentional,” she says.
So why would a bunch of crows do all this? The answer, according to Gabi, is simple: “It”s showing me how much they love me.”
(via BBC News Magazine)
If you”d like to make some feathered friends of your own, be consistent about feeding and rewarding them on schedule. They might not bring you as many gifts, but they”ll stick around, says Marzluff. Peanuts in the shell are an especially good snack for crows.