Column: the Gifts, and Tricks, of the Crow

Walking through a high school campus just before lunchtime, I noticed four crows busily searching for scraps of food lying in the grass. One lucky bird had found a particularly large morsel and was enjoying its meal bonanza. Then, one by one, the other three lifted off and vacated the grounds to perch on the nearby building, staring down at their feasting friend. At that moment, the lunch bell rang, and the final crow abandoned his jackpot without hesitation and joined his companions on the roof, moments before the students came streaming into the area, hungrily searching out their own meals. It is easy to write this off as coincidence and anthropomorphization.

Column: Shaking the Peanut Box

When I was in my early twenties I had a rabbit, a sixteen-pound French Lop that had free rein of parts of the house and succeeded in both equally fascinating and terrifying every houseguest I ever had. From her ability to clear a seven-foot gate to her skill in severing any cord or wire ever laid out in her path, Gwendolyn was much more akin to a troublesome toddler trapped in a four-legged body the size of a Corgi than what the average person pictures when they think of a pet rabbit. Out of all her tricks and quirks, the one that still echoes loudest in my mind years later was her unfailing habit of excitedly charging any time she heard a sound reminiscent of pills shaking in a bottle. She would come immediately running at the sound, often at top-speed, obsessively expecting a treat. While it delighted friends and family, it was an accidental behavior that was an unintended consequence of my own naïveté in terms of how strongly animals can form associations with sounds.