Student seeks to form friendships with crows

Katie Daniels

A student on campus is looking to make friends with some crows. He put up a few signs around campus asking anyone who saw crows to send him a message with their location. So far his quest has been unsuccessful, but he remains hopeful.

Hayden Hobgood is a senior from Owensboro with a major in organizational leadership. He became interested in crows this year after watching a documentary called “The Secret Life of Crows.” He said the documentary “proved that crows are extremely intelligent beings with their own culture, capable of doing things such as feeling and expressing emotions.”

Hobgood is not the only person on campus with an interest in crows. Blaine Ferrell, dean emeritus, raised a pair of pet crows and feeds the ones who flock to his lawn. Ferrell has a PhD in zoology with an interest in animal behavior and ornithology. He said he likes to understand what makes animals tick and what fascinates him about crows is their intelligence.

“They’re smart and very resilient,” Ferrell said. “They always work in groups, with one sentinel watching out for the whole group. So if you see a group of crows, there will always be one up in the tree, watching out.”

Once he tried to get one for a coworker from a nest that was 40 feet up in a tree.

“My arms were burning, and I got attacked by four or five crows, so that was an eye-opener,” he said. “They really work as a group.”

Hobgood hopes to make friends with the crows on campus and get them to recognize him and be comfortable with his presence.

Ferrell said this is definitely possible. Young crows taken from the nest will imprint on humans and bond with them. The two he had as pets would sit on his shoulder and eat from his hand. He said bonding with adult crows is harder.

Crows can recognize individual faces and pass that information on generationally. Ferrell has crows that will come up onto his front yard if he’s sitting on the front porch but leave if a neighbor comes over.

“The ones on my front yard took about a month or so to get used to me,” Ferrell said.

When talking about his love for crows Hobgood said, “Long story short, it’s all about their intelligence, emotions and their ability to bond together. I put those ads up because I wanted to befriend some. I want to find and feed them. I was hoping I could just feed them from my res[idence] hall room and we could just be friends. It’s no different from a dog or cat, it’s just more difficult to find them.”

Ferrell said crows are mostly residential and don’t usually migrate over the winter. However, in the winter they band together in much larger flocks. Ferrell also said that they like to rob silvery things and keep them in their nest, and they are capable of complex thinking and problem solving.

Hobgood is asking anyone who sees crows around campus to send him a message on Snapchat at doctorswag236.

“I’m all about those crows,” Hobgood said.

Reporter Katie Daniels can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]