Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Crow Movie September 23, 2008

Heading to our favorite local gringo Mexican place for lunch with the family on Sunday, I saw a guy with a fancy movie camera set up in the street near the restaurant.


Since we were basically on the University of Washington campus, we thought at first it might be some kind of film class assignment, but we couldn’t figure out what he was filming. Plus, the camera looked too spiffy to be college-course-issue. Then we saw a second guy, camoflauged behind some greenery.

Crowcam II

We got in line (there always a line at Agua Verde), and in front of us was a woman with a walkie-talkie, who occasionally turned around to give pointers to the crew. It seemed pretty obvious that she was directing the film, so I asked her what it was about. She said she and her crew were here in Seattle putting in long hours to follow the movements and learn more about the habits of crows.

In a previous (and somewhat off-topic) post, I mentioned a study by some University of Washington scientists that further proves the intelligence of crows. They can apparently recognize human faces and warn each other about those of us who might need keeping a close eye on. The director, Susan Fleming, has received funding from the Canadian Broadcast Company and other sources to make her film, “A Murder of Crows,” which she hopes will help people to understand more about these often-reviled and, until now, poorly-understood creatures. They are currently filming some of the crows whom the UW scientists had captured and banded with radio frequency tags, and she said that they are getting some really amazing footage. Next stop for the crew is New Caledonia, off the coast of New Zealand, to film the crow population there (the New Caledonian crows are famous for their tool-making). For a short clip from the upcoming documentary, click here.

As the tired and hungry crew took a burrito break and we headed home after our own meal, I saw what could have been their movie star, a lone female who has recently left her parents’ protection, atop a pole. I wonder if she was looking at me too, and if so, would she remember me next time I indulge my cravings for fish tacos and limonata?

Pole crow

Later that day, I saw a pair nosing around in the parking strip near my house. Susan had reminded me that crows generally mate for life, and I definitely looked at this couple with a fresh perspective and an extra dose of respect.

Crow couple


8 Responses to “Crow Movie”

  1. Megan Says:

    I feel kind of inconsiderate knowing that crows can recognize human faces, and I can’t recognize one single crow. Is this the same crow who was here yesterday? No idea.

  2. Curmudgeon Says:

    Enjoyed this post! How fascinating. I sure will be looking at our neighborhood crows with a bit more curiosity and respect.

  3. Georgia Says:

    Great post. Crows have been on my mind because the population seems to have grown in my Berkeley neighborhood.

  4. Aerie-el Says:

    Enjoyed your post and the trailer for the documentary. Looking forward to learning more about our feathered friends.

  5. Racquel Says:

    I didn’t realize that crows mate for life. That sounds like an interesting documentary they are making.

  6. greenwalks Says:

    Megan –

    Your comment cracked me up, but I know what you mean! Makes me feel kind of dim-witted in comparison to the crows…


    Curmudgeon –

    I’m with you there, I’ve definitely been viewing them differently since last weekend.


    Aerie-el –

    Thanks! I hope we get to see it and it’s not just on Canadian TV or something. I’ll try to remember to find out and put up another post about it in the future for anyone who’s interested.


    Racquel –

    I think that’s correct – hope I’m not putting wrong info out there! They a fascinating species, if not always well-liked by humans.

    – Karen

  7. Patrick Says:

    I found your blog doing a google about the crow movie (it comes up second seaching for “susan fleming crow”) I worked with Susan a while back on a series she did for HGTV in the US and Canada called “The Secret World of Gardens”. She has quite the knack for creating a compelling documentary, I’m quite interested in seeing what she come up with.

  8. greenwalks Says:

    Hi Patrick –

    I’m glad you found my post! I hope Susan has time to put up something more complete, once she’s done with filming. I’m sure she’s pretty busy at the moment! I’d love to see that garden documentary, thanks for mentioning it. Wonder if it’s available on DVD? I’ll have to look!

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