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crow caregiving

Crows have featured often on this list...but I don't remember reading
about them taking care of sick family members before.  Enjoy!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2004 09:11:48 -0400
From: john bois <jbois@starpower.net>
To: jbois@umd5.umd.edu
Subject: crow caregiving


Familial care -giving in American Crows. KEVIN J. MCGOWAN, Cornell Lab of 
Ornithology, Ithaca, NY

14850, Anne B. Clark and Douglas A. Robinson, Jr., Biological Sciences, 
Binghamton University,

Binghamton, NY, 13902, and Carolee Caffrey, Audubon Science, Ivyland, PA 18974.

Care-giving to sick or disabled conspecifics is rarely reported in non-human 
animals, but is

theoretically important. Anecdotal accounts exist for dolphins, great apes and 
elephants. Here we describe

care-giving to individuals within family groups of the cooperatively breeding 
American Crow (Corvus

brachyrhynchos). American Crows live in extended family groups, and offspring 
can remain with their

parents for up to seven years. Family relationships can be important for the 
attainment of breeding status;

budding of the parental territory and the helping of siblings are frequent. 
Family members participate in

territory defense, predator mobbing, and the care of offspring. Several 
instances of sick or injured crows

being defended and fed by family members were observed. Feeding of sick crows 
did not depend on begging

by those individuals. Contact with sick family members presents a potential for 
the spread of diseases,

especially that caused by West Nile virus (WNV). We observed crows dying of WNV 
to see if physical

contact with family members was an avenue of disease transmission. We observed 
no direct contact with

dying WNV-infected crows, but family members were present in most instances, 
and guarded or kept vigil on

the moribund crows. Care-giving is not restricted to humans or a few
highly social mammals, but occurs in

complexly social birds as well.