Maybe “The Birds” had a dash of realism after all

I just found an article about a woman in Germany who’s been so terrorized by a raven that police have had to detain it. And they couldn’t even manage that!

A raven caught by police after it had been stalking a woman for several days has managed to escape by pecking its way out of a cardboard box and is at large again in the town of Weinsberg in south-western Germany, police said on Monday.

The woman complained to police that the bird had been terrorizing her by constantly tapping at her window, tearing open her shopping bags and sitting on her car menacingly. “The lady even claimed it had physically attacked her,” Rainer Köller, a spokesman for the police in the nearby city of Heilbronn, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

To prevent a real-life repeat of Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic “The Birds,” officers were dispatched to check out the situation on Saturday. A neighbor helped them to lure the stalker into a box with some bird food and they took it to a local bird sanctuary.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. “It has managed to escape,” Köller said. “It’s incredibly clever.” Time will tell whether the raven will return to haunt its victim.

The bird has either taken a particular dislike to the woman, or it has a split personality, Köller said, explaining that the raven had got on well with its victim’s neighbor. “The neighbor said the bird was always friendly to him and that he stroked and fed it,” said Köller.

Yeah, it’s a sad day when a bird outwits a human being.

Crows are known to be tool users. Researchers have gone so far as to set up ultralight cameras on the crows to watch what they can do. National Geographic has an interesting article about that.

Researchers already knew that the crows “fish” for beetle larvae in dead wood with tools made from sticks or leaves.

Video footage showed that the crows also forage extensively on the ground, using a previously unreported type of tool—stalks of grass—to turn over loose material in search of insects.

“The fact that they use tools on the ground shows that the niche they exploit with their tool use is much larger than previously thought,” Rutz said.

Another discovery was that the crows did not always use whatever stick or stem was close by to serve as a foraging tool.

In one instance, Rutz said, a favored tool was used over a prolonged period of time and carried in flight from one location to another.

Here’s the link to a Quicktime movie about one of these New Caledonian crows figuring out how to manipulate a wire to achieve her goal. (Found here.)

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