It's called "allopreening," and it's common among crow family members. I have 
some photos and a little video of it at
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/101683745969614096883/album/AF1QipOTOn8uYT5okqlVFuupJF3oZ9GirfXeONgUKOYY

All members of the genus Corvus allopreen, so far as I know. Oddly, none of the 
jays do. When I worked on Florida Scrub-Jays I noticed that they could really 
have used allopreening. In the winter they would get ticks engorged on the back 
of their heads where an individual cannot groom. And, it appeared that the 
ticks carried important diseases, too. So they could have benefitted from 
allopreening.

Kevin


Kevin J. McGowan
Project Manager
Distance Learning in Bird Biology
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
k...@cornell.edu
607-254-2452


 
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-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-123607715-3493...@list.cornell.edu 
<bounce-123607715-3493...@list.cornell.edu> On Behalf Of John and Fritzie 
Blizzard
Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2019 11:15 PM
To: CAYUGABIRDS-L <cayugabird...@list.cornell.edu>
Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Crow relationship .... Union Springs

This Mother's Day a.m. I saw a crow in our choke cherry tree & assumed it was 
an adult from the nest in the nearby spruce trees.

Here, let me say that only once in the last mo. have I heard any cawing from 
any crows so I presume they are quiet during nesting so as to not provoke any 
smaller birds into attacking them.

Almost immediately,  another crow joined the first & they seemed to really 
snuggle closely together in the steady rain.  I noticed the one on the right 
seemed to be doing something to the head of the other. They both turned so they 
were sideways to me. The one on the right appeared to be grooming the feathers 
on the top of the head of the one on the left.  I could see, with binoculars, 
that the feathers were definitely being lifted up & then were smoothed back 
down as the grooming continued.

This continued at least 5 min. & was quite interesting to watch. WHAT was going 
on???  Anyone have an answer? I have no idea if the birds were mates or family 
members since for many yrs.  a family of 3 to 7 has faithfully come to check 
out what compost I throw on the garden. Seems too soon for the eggs to have 
hatched & have a bird the size of an adult already.

Just another mystery of Nature.

Fritzie,

Union Springs,  where it's wet & getting wetter!


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