Territory and Mobbing
Territory holders are always the most dominant birds with both the male and the female taking steps to defend that territory. The male is perhaps the most important in this defence (given his dominance over the female). A male crow without a mate is still able to maintain his territory but a lone female is unable to do this. Each territory can range between 14 to 49 hectares.
Territory holders seem to demonstrate a degree of tolerance toward neighbouring pairs who are recognised to the first pair, perhaps this is because neighbours may aid in the defence of the territory against intruders from flocks and predators.
When a predator enters into a pair’s territory, mobbing behaviour occurs. This has also been seen if there is a sickly or injured crow in the vicinity. We think this is because a disabled crow attracts unwanted attention from predators or may be percieved as a source of disease and so it attracts the same mobbing response to drive it well away. This may seem cruel, but it is perhaps why crows are so successful – survival of the fittest.
Crows also seem to have a dislike of pigeons and doves, and often chase them away, seemingly for fun. We, however, believe that there is a reason for this too since pigeons and doves are the main carriers of avian diseases. They also gather in large numbers and attract predators.
Mobbing may involve several pairs ganging together to form a group with most attacks on intruders taking place in the air. This is where crows let loose all inhibitions and gain in confidence. Mobbing on the ground is a far more cautious affair as they understandably feel at their most vulnerable in this situation and appear jumpy as they “test” their target – always working from behind, pecking then jumping backwards.
In the air, the tables are turned – crows are extremely competent flyers, they can outmanoeuvre most aerial predators and working as a team, can outsmart them easily.
Attacks are made using their strong beak to stab at the victim, usually aiming for the eyes of a predator – without these the victim is at a distinct disadvantage! Crows also use their claws as a weapon, in much the same way as a raptors. Crows also use this mobbing behaviour if another crow has been caught by a predator in much the same way as jackdaws do. Our captive crows make a racket if we carry a scrunched-up bin bag or similar black object, or if we are actually holding a crow. This behaviour must be conditioned into them from hatching as we have seen youngsters reacting in the same way as adults.
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