Crows & Ravens vs The World

Mobbing behavior by crows and others in the avian family is very common. The crows are reacting to the potential threat another lifeform or (until they quickly figure it out) an object poses as a predator to the adult crows and their offspring. The mobbing often serves to harass the threat into leaving the area. Occasionally, though, a mobbed hawk or owl will turn the tables and attack and kill the crow.

The following video is a chilling example of how a murder of crows will defend its turf, cornering an otherwise formidable opponent using intimidation and force, but the Owl is not about to lose…


In this clip, the crows are shown displaying a more common dive-and-swoop behavior on a Great Horned Owl that has entered their territory.


Mobbing is not the only way crows and ravens deal with threats, and there is some speculation that harassment behavior may be more than protecting a flock. There have been documented encounters between Crows, Ravens, Magpies etc  and a variety of natural predators, (the most common being hawks, owls, and cats) but also between the corvids and creatures which would normally not pose any threat to them whatsoever (such as squirrels, rats, smaller birds, or insects). Generally these can be attributed to hunting and scavenging, but not all.


During some encounters, the crows act as if they are simply doing it for sport, to alleviate boredom, or as a ritual of discovery. Bullying and teasing has been observed in many highly intelligent animals, including ourselves, apes, dolphins, rats, cats, and wolves, lacking the systematic signs of an instinct mechanism (such as those observed in ants). Does this indicate that the sense of self which factors highly into higher intelligence also brings with it the curse of jealousy, intolerance, and greed?

In a tribute to Aesop’s fable of the Jackdaw and the Peacock, this crow attempts to steal a tail feather (or catch a ride)


All is not lost, however. Our beloved birds are not Hitchcock villains or devious devils looking to lie, cheat and steal at any opportunity. Like humans, corvids adapt to their environments and fortunes, or lack thereof, and as a result have a widely diverse set of skills and behaviors.  They also seem to be particularily fond of, or at least respectful of, the cat.