Training and Talking with Backyard Crows

My relationship with the Murder Family developed along distinctly different,  yet fully intertwined paradigms.

But before we go there, if you haven’t read the first part, The Murder Family, you should definitely check it out first.

Up to speed? Cool…

These two paradigms:

One was purely 3-D rational, science based. I drew on decades of direct behavior modification  experience from working with dozens of species to shape the crows behavior. Subtly true, but definite, as I’ll show along the way.

The other firmly rooted in the spiritual realms. The family became helpers on my spiritual path.

“Intertwined” because I consciously utilized elements of both my left-brain logical trainer side and my right-brain creative, spiritually-connected side. Sometimes individually, and sometimes blending elements of both.

The key here – I did it consciously.

The behavior modification part.

I provided a food source and desensitized them to my proximity.

It was so much fun too!

I’ve always wanted a wild crow family to adopt me. They are everywhere around us, but none seemed inclined to want to become closer until D.M. Our relationship is by no means unique, the Internet is full of these sorts of stories. But yeah…super fun! As if I didn’t already love being out in my garden chatting with my own critters. Because MOAR animals is almost always better.

The trainer in me is always thinking when it comes to “my” animals. I started to wonder if I could condition him to come at a signal. So I paired clicking, and holding the kibble up in my palm so it would be visible from above.

Crows are super smart, in case you hadn’t heard.  I knew this would be a piece of cake for him.

It did not take long before he would pass overhead whenever I’d go outside, banking to circle back if he saw me lift my hand. They live in the trees nearby, and can pretty much see my whole yard from several vantage points in the surrounding area.

Next, I started calling them to different parts of my yard. Putting food in different stations.

They were very willing to move from place to place, but proximity was a trigger for a while. They’d either stay up high, or even fly away unless I walked away.

Gradually though, they learned to trust.

Part of me wants to work on desensitizing them to allow me to approach even closer. But … I wouldn’t want them to get too trusting and generalize, letting the wrong human too close.

So instead, I let them come as close to me as they are comfortable, rather than me walk up to them. If they show hesitation, I back away.

DM will approach me to about 4 feet if I hold very still and promise that I will not move. His Lady Murder is shy. I need to be about 8 – 10 feet away before she’ll come down and eat. The Murder kids, very skittish. Only just recently have they started to come down to feed on their own.

Just a couple days ago though, they did something pretty amazing, that still has me a little floored, tbh.

They called me out to help another bird.

That’s going to have to wait for another post though.

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How do I know what my animals are saying? How did I learn to communicate with them?

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