Why Do Crows and Ravens Caw?
Crows and ravens are known for being highly intelligent birds. They are capable of emitting many different sounds, but the most common and characteristic way they communicate with their peers, especially when at a distance, is using the caw. Before starting, make sure you know the differences between crows, ravens and rooks.
An animal with as many resources as the crow or the raven can adapt its natural sound according to what it wants to communicate or express. But, why do crows and ravens caw? What signals are sent with a caw?
Discover all these fun facts about crows and ravens and much more here at AnimalWised.
The language of crows
For a few years now there have been numerous ethological experiments with ravens and other corvids that have resulted in conclusions that are surprising to some scientists. However, if we take into account that crows are capable of solving problems using tools, it makes a lot of sense that their communication methods are also highly complex.
What do the tone and frequency of a crow's caw mean?
It has been demonstrated that the crow has an excellent memory of its peers, recognizing them after periods of up to three years. When a crow meets other corvids, its cawing will differ depending on if the crows are family, a group of young adults or rivals. One of the reasons why crows or ravens caw, then, is to give off a particular signal to those it encounters.
- When detecting the presence of other hostile individuals or other unknown birds, crows emit a short and low pitched caw. Ethologists interpret this as an attempt to look larger and more threatening.
- The caws of crows within the same group or family will be frequent and repetitive but not shrill, more like a friendly greeting.
Another reason why crows or ravens caw is to warn their peers of any imminent danger. One of the ways in which a crow perceives danger is when it sees a dead crow. In these circumstances, the frightened crow will emit a row of powerful, even unpleasant caws to raise the alarm.
After carrying out a sort of funeral-like sound together, they will flee the area. Sometimes it takes several days for crows or ravens to return to the site where one of them was found dead, because they assume that the area has become dangerous for them.
These behaviors and sounds to notify other members of a group or family and the habit of expressing emotions about the death of a peer are relatively frequent in mammals, but not so much in birds.
As is the case with mammals, crows transmit information to their offspring. The caws of crows are also adapted to signalling "friendly" presences, such as a group of humans that have the habit of leaving food in the same place. They can also serve to guide larger scavengers to corpses and thus get them to open them up so that the crows can take advantage of what the bigger scavengers leave behind.
There are caws for specific moments, as the cries of flight, the sounds emitted during a chase or those that are emitted during the courting.
The body language of birds
In addition to tone and frequency of cawing, we must also take into account the movements and body language that accompany the sound. Crows and ravens can make other sounds with their beaks, and they can also use objects to catch their peers' attention.
These birds have a complex and fascinating communication system that humans must still study in depth. Why do crows and ravens caw, then? There are many reasons, and we probably haven't found them all yet.
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