DEAR JOAN: I found Monday's column regarding the mockingbirds attacking the cat very interesting.

Several years ago, as I was getting ready to go to the barn, I kept hearing a weird noise from our backyard, where we have a pool. I followed the noise and found a half-drowned baby crow inside the pool filter.

He looked at me and made a feeble sound. I picked up the baby and brought him out in the sun. He couldn't even hold his head up. The parents were circling overhead watching me and crowing the whole time.

I dried him off and set him on a towel in the sunny corner with some water and food, and went to the barn.

Watch how you treat crows. They remember.
Watch how you treat crows. They remember. (Patrick Tehan/Mercury News)

When I returned 3 hours later the bird was sitting upright, but still not moving much. I sat and talked to him a bit. A couple of hours later he flew into a tree, recovered completely and rejoined his family.

The bird had a very distinct "caw," and for years, as I would walk the neighborhood, I would hear him and he seemed to be talking to me. He would follow me and greet me. I thought I was crazy. I can't remember the last time I saw him, but this was about seven years ago.

I saw a television special on crows that said the birds do recognize human faces. Do you think he knew it was me?

Kathy Furtado

Bay Area


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DEAR KATHY: Yes, I think he remembered your kindness and called out to you whenever he saw you. Most birds are intelligent, but crows appear to be among the smartest, able to problem-solve and recognize faces. They remember, too.

Research has shown that the birds somehow communicate information about faces to other crows.

So if someone throws a rock at a crow or injures it, that bird will recognize the perpetrator and may teach other crows to recognize him or her, too. The information also can be handed down to successive generations.

If you notice other crows seeming to speak to you, they just could be the offspring or family of the original bird you saved.

DEAR JOAN: Just recently, a pair of hawks -- Cooper's, I think -- have been sitting on my back fence by the bird feeder. Now all the birds have disappeared.

I have a feeling they were scared off by the hawks. I guess there is nothing I can do but let nature run its course.

I really miss seeing my birds in the backyard.

Doug Linderman

Bay Area

DEAR DOUG: With no birds visiting your yard, the hawks will soon move on, allowing the song birds and others to return.

There are ways to discourage the hawks from also returning.

Hanging your bird feeders under an awning or umbrella will keep the hawks from spotting the birds. You also can hang them on the lower branches of a tree with a thick canopy, although this may allow other predators -- cats -- to hide in the tree and ambush them.

Buying caged feeders, or creating cages around your existing feeders will prevent the hawks from getting to the feeding birds.

Simply taking down the feeders for a couple of weeks should also do the trick, as well, and reduce chances the hawks will return with the other birds.

Stringing a thin wire above your fence line may help, too, as it will make it difficult for the hawks to perch there.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read the Animal Life blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/pets.