Friends come in all shapes and sizes, but 8-year-old Gabi Mann from Seattle has some very unusual good friends who shower her with gifts every day without fail. Every since Gabi started feeding the crows in her neighborhood, they show their appreciation by gifting her with all kinds of trinkets.
Gabi's unique relationship with her feathered friends began in 2011, when at age four, she was prone to dropping food. The crows caught up on that, and started watching out for any crumbs she dropped that they would be able to pick up. As she got older, she began to feed them consciously – she would share her lunch with them on the way to the bus stop. It wasn't long before the crows were lining up in the afternoon to greet her at the stop.
In 2013, Gabi started becoming more dedicated in feeding the crows regularly. Instead of just sharing her lunch with them, she would fill a birdbath in the backyard with fresh water every day, cover the bird feeder platforms with peanuts and throw handfuls of dog food on the grass. After awhile, Gabi noticed that whenever she comes out to the backyard on her feeding schedule, the birds would already be perched on telephone lines patiently waiting for their treats.
Once Gabi and her family got into the habit of the routine, they witnessed something absolutely amazing. The crows started showing their appreciation and gratitude by leaving gifts in the backyard. Shiny trinkets like an earring, a hinge, a polished rock and such would appear in the empty feeders. Gabi has collected every small gift that the crows have given her – including a miniature silver ball, a blue Lego piece, a small piece of foam, a yellow bead and more. Each item is individually wrapped and categorised, and they are obviously very precious to Gabi.
“We keep it in as good condition as she can,” she said. Her ‘third favorite’ is a rusty old screw, because “you don’t see a crow carrying around a screw that much unless it’s trying to build its house.”
According to John Marzluff, professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington, anyone can have a similar relationship with crows. “If you want to form a bond with a crow, be consistent in rewarding them,” he said. “There’s definitely a two-way communication going on there. They understand each other’s signals.” He revealed that birds communicate by how they fly, how close they walk, and where they sit. Humans can learn their language and crows can learn their feeder’s patterns and posture. Over time, they may start to know and trust each other. But Marzluff admits that gifts are a rare thing.
“I can’t say they always will (give presents),” he said. “But I have seen an awful lot of things crows have brought people.” And at times, the presents could be rather macabre – like dead baby birds that they might gift a potential mate during courtship feeding. Gabi’s received a few icky items as well. Her mother had to throw out a rotting crab claw once.
Gabi’s mom Lisa is equally interested in the crows – she regularly photographs the birds and studies their behavior and interactions. And something amazing happened just a few weeks ago – the crows returned a lens cap that she had lost while photographing a bald eagle in the neighborhood. “I’m sure that it was intentional,” she said. “They watch us all the time. I’m sure they knew I dropped it. I’m sure they decided they wanted to return it.”
Check out the video below to see Gabi feeding her bird friends, and don't forget to share this article with your human friends to share the wonder that is nature.