Walwyn's picture

Sly but clever crow

Was driving into the work the other day and saw a crow attacking a rabbit on the verge besides the dual carriageway. As I drove past I realised that it was attempting to force the rabbit in front of the speeding cars.



Alison Davies's picture

??? You are attributing so

??? You are attributing so much intelligence and intention here!

Presumably you were speeding along too, not much time to observe much? (Perhaps, after you passed, the crow attacked from a different direction, as a result of which the rabbit went away from the verge?) Do you really think the crow had worked out that it must force the rabbit in front of speeding cars? If it were THAT clever, and had realised the lethal possibilities, and consequently formed such a cunning plan, it might have been clever enough also to work out that crows too can be squashed by speeding traffic?

Just because you can interpret, and envisage the likely RESULT of, the crow's behaviour (reasonably briefly glimpsed) doesn't mean that this WAS the crow's plan!

Actually I am not saying that you are wrong, believe it or not, just that you don't have enough evidence, and could be seen as jumping to conclusions based on fleeting and therefore insufficient observation.

Ain't "scientific".

Walwyn's picture

And the crow's other reason

And the crow's other reason for harrying the rabbit?

Alison Davies's picture

Who knows? It might have

Who knows? It might have liked eating rabbits, usually dead, but this one happened to be alive. Still not saying you were wrong. Just think you are making a big leap in attributing your own perception of the circumstances to an intention in the brain of the crow.
For how long were you able to observe this?

Walwyn's picture

I saw three attacks where the

I saw three attacks where the crow was heading the rabbit off from getting back into the hedge. There are few motivations for animal behaviour acquiring food, procreation, defence. I somehow doubt that the crow was either attempting to mate with or defend itself from the rabbit, and a crow isn't noted for being a predator of rabbits, earthworms yes, rabbit no.

Alison Davies's picture

OK then! Sly AND clever!

OK then! Sly AND clever!

Alison Davies's picture

However...aargh, she's

However...aargh, she's back...

You say that you saw three attacks when the crow was attacking the rabbit "to stop it heading back to the hedge". Traffic not moving very fast that day, then.

How do you know the crow had that intention? The result may have been thus, but the intention is implied by you.

And beyond that implied intention, how do you know that the crow wanted the rabbit squashed? By a car? Because that is what you are saying, isn't it?

debbieC's picture

Could the crow have had a

Could the crow have had a nest or possibly a fledgling in the hedge that it was trying to protect by keeping the enemy/rabbit away from it? Must admit, the idea of a crow trying to get a rabbit to make itself into a 'ready meal' sounds OTT, to think this far forward, it surely must have worked out how its going to dine without getting squashed itself!!


CJT's picture

Clever Crows

I think DebbieC may have the right idea.We all know corvids are very clever and can work out how to get an easy meal as was shown in Life of Birds when the crows in Japan were dropping nuts on the road to smash them( see link)but to try to do this to a rabbit seems one step too far.


RoyW's picture

I agree with Alison

There is no reason to assume that this crow was trying to force the rabbit into traffic.
Crows will prey on all sorts of other creatures (rabbits included) and they are capable of killing them without needing them run over.

The most logical explanation is that the crow was trying to kill the rabbit, and that it was trying to keep it away from the hedge to keep it in the open and prevent escape (not because it was trying to force it into the road).

jja28's picture

Clever crow ?

I agree with Alisons and RoyW's comments.


allrounder's picture

Clever Corvids

I think walwyns assumption has some credibility. Crows are as far as birds go, very intelligent. Yes they can kill a rabbit but I'm sure they'd prefer to have the job done for them. Not because they are squeamish, but because killing a rabbit would not come without risk. Teeth and flailing claws could pose a major risk to any corvid wanting a meal. Crows and Magpies taking meals from road kills are as common a sight as traffic cones but how many crow corpses do you see? Very few.
I think it is wrong to dismiss walwyn's observation, There are numerous examples where corvids have been observed doing opportunistic and inventive things in order to get a meal like dropping shells onto rocks from height in order to break them open and get at the contents, or pulling at rubbish bin liners to get at the contents at the bottom of the liner. Walwyn, I'm sure if you sent your observation to BB (British Birds) or the BTO, they would be very interested in your observation.

Please see my Flickr photo's www.flickr.com/photos/129804972@N07/

RoyW's picture

"could be", "perhaps", "maybe".

The problem that I have with the conclusion that the crow was trying to force the rabbit into the road (which it may have been trying to do) is that there does not seem to be any reason to reach this conclusion instead of just assuming that the crow was preventing its intended prey from reaching the cover of the hedge.
Many predators have been observed getting between their prey and potential cover, and forcing the prey to move away from the cover - and the preys natural reaction is always to try and get into cover. In the incident described here the observed behaviour may well have been exactly the same if there was a river, cliff edge, or open field where the road was. In the first two examples it could be assumed that the crow was trying to force the rabbit to it's death by drowning or a fall, however in the last example similar behaviour would not have the possibility of causing death - but would prevent the rabbit from reaching safety until the crow felt there was an opportunity to go in for the kill.

Was the crow trying to get the rabbit run over? We'll never know!