It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so the song goes. For many, gift giving is serious business; hours are spent choosing just the right gift for each person on their list.
Ornithologists and scientists have found that we humans aren’t the only experts at giving the perfect gift. There are several bird species, particularly among the corvidae family, who are known for their gift giving skills. In fact, birds in the corvidae family are the only bird species known to gift humans or one another.
See also: Gift Ideas for Bird Lovers
The Gift Giving Crow
Most people will lump all black birds under the crow umbrella. In reality, there are forty different species of crows—including the American Crow, the Fish Crow, and the Raven. Recognized for their loud “caw caw” sound, crows should be given their due. These dark black birds are also known for their intelligence and adaptability. Ornithologists have recognized these birds for their problem-solving skills and amazing communication skills. This might explain why they are able to interact so well with the humans who feed and care for them.
The crow is the most famous of gift giving birds. There are countless stories on the Internet about it. One of the most famous stories took place in 2015, when an eight-year-old girl’s bond with the crows in her backyard made international news. Gabi Mann of Seattle consistently fed and interacted with the crows in the backyard of her family home. Her bond was so deep that she was able to tell individual crows apart by appearance and name them. Her attention and kindness were rewarded with gifts brought to her by the crows.
John Marzluff, a professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington, confirmed this behavior. He says that crows gift the people who feed them and pay attention to them. While feeding crows may sound like a fun and rewarding activity, keep in mind that they will remember your kindness and get the word out. They will bring friends. If you’ve ever fed the geese at a local pond, they too will not understand when you stop. Consistency in feeding is key.
The Gift Giving Magpie
For the magpie, a relationship with a human can built with or without food.
These birds are known to have an extraordinary longevity ranging from twenty-five to thirty years. Like the crow that remembers the people who have treated them kindly, the magpie recognizes and remembers human faces for many years. This also enables them to be aware of which humans pose a danger. The magpie’s gift is that of sharing its most precious asset—its offspring. When the magpie trusts a human, it will allow their offspring to play near the human as opposed to flying away.
Some magpies have ‘gifted’ the humans they bond with by joining in human activity such as digging alongside them in the garden.
See also: Top 3 Worst Bird Feeding Mistakes
The Gift Giving Eurasian Jay
The Eurasian Jay won’t be found making a list of gift ideas for the human whose backyard feeders he frequents. The male Eurasian Jay is one of the few birds that, unlike the crow, will gift food to its mate.
Scientists proved this theory by separating male and female jays. They allowed the male jays to watch their mates eat their fill of either moth or mealworm larvae. After watching their mates fill up on only one larvae, the male’s instinct was to gift their mate with the food they did not eat. It was clear that by observing their mate’s food choice, the male jays knew what their mates would want to eat next. Extensive testing proved that the Eurasian Jay is a gift giving bird but only to its mate.
See also: How to Attract Blue Jays
Nature’s Gift to Us
As you find yourself in a frenzy searching for the perfect gift for the special people in your life, don’t forget to step back and take some time in nature. Enjoying the fascinating birds in your own backyard is a gift you can give yourself at any time!