Running With Scissors


Literally, Nelson took off with a pair of scissors and went running with them. The gal I am teaching on how to train Nelson had a pair of scissors fall out of her pocket while in the room with him, and of course Nelson noticed it and probably thought, “Oh, SHINY! MINE! MINE!”


Image from This a lovely photo I found on Google. I think it captures the inquisitive nature of crows beautifully.

At one point the gal with me in the room attempted to regain possession of the scissors but he wasn’t going to give them back without a fight. So we let him run to see what he would do with them, and of course, like any good corvid, he cached them under the newspapers. Below is a link to the video, and no crows were harmed in the making of that video!

Crow Antics

Interesting, fun fact is that the notion that corvids are attracted to shiny objects and caching them is more folklore than science. Most corvids do not have an affinity for shiny objects. Research has been conducted on this matter and it found that the majority of corvids in both in captivity and in the wild did not show an affinity for shiny objects. In fact, many were more hesitant of shiny objects. For example, corvids fed with shiny bowls were less likely to take the food. Now Nelson is imprinted, meaning he thinks people are his family. I have found through three years of observation that Nelson most definitely has an attraction to shiny things. But most of all Nelson has an attraction to anything that you want. For example, he knew the scissors belonged to the gal and when she attempted to reclaim them, it made the steal that much more fun because she was “playing back.” The scissors were both shiny and something we wanted so it made for a delightful steal. Hey, he’s like a child, sometimes your just glad that for one minute their entertained and not destroying the house! Corvids are like children or dementia patients they all have their favorite obsession. I’ve heard of a crow once in Florida that loved stealing golf balls, which doesn’t enhance the survival chances of that crow any. Unless that crow found some use that we don’t know yet for golf balls.


We put some night crawlers in a bowl of water as enrichment. Nothing says fun like bobbing for worms or taking a bath in water that just had worms floating in it! One of Nelson’s favorite activities is bathing in water and because of the temperature, we took away his giant bowl of water outside. He is supposed to be one of the smartest bird’s in the world and yet he hasn’t figured out that when it’s cold you shouldn’t take a bath. I have walked out to him once and he had taken a bath and his feathers had frozen to his body. Let’s just say he was not a happy camper.



The center I work at is a part of my minor for college and currently, I now have four students who are learning how to train ambassadors working under me. It was fitting that Nelson went running with scissors today because I feel like I am running with scissors when I train with the students. I have trained animals ranging from dogs to opossums to hawks, but I have never taught someone how to train an animal. I can only hope that I don’t tell them the wrong thing!

Right now I am focusing on teaching them the correct diet for crows. Since crows are omnivores and opportunistic they will eat almost anything. It is critical in captivity that crows receive variety, so often I have seen handlers fall into the routine of feeding the same thing every day because it is easy, it doesn’t require thought. To train Nelson I use all the good food like crickets, mice, fish, and egg as rewards for doing desired behaviors. At least Nelson provided great entertainment to my weekend. He is a joy to work with if you can keep up with his antics!



5 thoughts on “Running With Scissors

  1. Nelson sounds very interesting! I recently received a video clip on whatsapp showing how a crow cracks nuts by dropping it on busy roads and waiting for cars to crush it for him. And also that since he didnt find it very safe to venture into traffic he changed his hunting ground to a pedestrian crossing! Very ingenious dont you think?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, it amazes me what all they can do. Scientist continue to discover more and more about corvids and their brain potential. Here is a link to one of my favorite videos of a crow solving a puzzle, If you get a chance watch the whole episode or watch The Secret Lives of Crows.We have tried similar puzzles with Nelson but of course, we always forgot to film it. I have encountered people who insist that animals do not have thought or intelligence, I say that corvids prove them wrong! Thanks for visiting my blog and I am glad you enjoyed my post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As always, interesting post! I have always loved hearing those behind the scenes of taking care of animals. You give personal touch to it and I learn so much, you know, you should seriously consider writing a book about your adventures with these little darlings. If I wanted to know more about crows and owls, etc. I’d choose to visit your blog instead of Googling or Wikipedia because, unlike these articles you write, they’re boring to read… Lol. Keep writing! Say hi to Nelson for me hehehe 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading! I agree a lot of people involved with animals tend to be dry and factual, which I get becuase most of us are not big people people and we’re giant nerds. I like telling it the way it is as a personal journey. Nelson teaches me far me than I could ever teach him. I’m going down later today and I’ll be sure to tell him you said hi, he’s been grumpy because he has to be inside instead of outside right now because of snow. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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