I sit next to some very large windows at work. As one of the very new people on the team, I’m not sure how I scored such a nice spot. The windows looks out onto a nice patio that we have for our use. I can also see clear into North Burnaby, all the way to the oil refineries. People use the patio on nice days to have lunch. They can dump their trash in a garbage receptacle that’s out on the patio. It’s one of those ones that’s open to the side but covered on top so no rain water can fill it up. The windows are also tinted so it’s easy to look out but very difficult to see in.

Last week, while I tightening up the graphics, I noticed a solitary crow had landed on the patio. Because it couldn’t see inside, it didn’t know there were half a dozen people less than ten feet from it (albeit separated by a window). It proceeded to hop onto the edge of the opening of the garbage receptacle. It then started pulling out pieces of trash and letting it drop onto the patio. Here’s where it started getting interesting. The crow pulled out many containers, things like plastic bags that contained bits of hamburger bun or foil bags that contained potato chips. Rather than slide his head into the bag, the crow purposely grabbed the end of the bag and then oriented it so that it was upside down. Whatever was left in the bag then came tumbling down. The crow then proceeded to eat what fell out. This was really cool because I’ve seen pictures of lots of animals that have jars and other containers stuck on their heads because they go after the food, rather than finding some way of getting the food to them. I watched the crow empty bag after bag, looking for the next part of his meal. I initially thought about going out there to prevent it from making a mess but I just became fascinated by its problem solving skills. On occasion, the crow would find a large piece of food. It wouldn’t eat this piece on the patio. Rather, it took the piece in its beak and then flew off to a higher part of the building. I guess it felt safer there to eat it. The crow returned minutes later to continue his exploration of garbage.

The crow returned again today to do the same thing. I can’t tell for certain but it appears to be the same crow. It looks quite healthy as its feathers have a nice shiny look to it. I didn’t know that crows were smart enough to gather food this way. Upon reading about crow intelligence on the great information repository, I learned that crows are quite intelligent and this behaviour is certainly within their norms. My only previous personal encounter with crows was when I was dive-bombed by a crow as I walked on campus at UBC.

The next thing I’ll probably learn is that cats enjoy lasagna!

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