The Girl Who Gets Gifts From Crows


There is a home in Seattle, Washington, USA, where lots of crows come to feed on seeds and leave strange presents. Such is the case going on for last four years. Gabi Mann, 8 years, leaves a plenty of seeds for the crows to feed on the daily basis. Lisa Mann, her mother told that this is happening since 2011 when Gabi and the crows became pals. The crows keep an eye on her and reach wherever she goes.

Their flock awaits for her at the bus stop in a line after accompanying her to the school.  They have brought in presents ranging from Nut-bolts, hairpins, some jewellery pieces, and some stones. Gabi has prepared the gift collection. Lisa said that a few days earlier Gabi had been to a jungle for photography and had lost the cover of the lens. They found the cover in the feed tray and were able to see one of the crows brought the cover through the recording camera installed.

Screen shot 2015-03-04 at 11.30.58 AM

Photo Source: Lisa Mann

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Most little girls will exchange bracelets and gifts with their closest friends, but one eight-year-old has been receiving trinkets from a more unusual source – the birds in her garden. Gabi Mann, from Seattle, Washington, feeds the crows that visit her home with peanuts and they bring her gifts in exchange. The youngster has built up the collection of more than 70 shiny beads, buttons, pieces of metal, brightly coloured plastic and foam – all left for her by her corvid companions. Perhaps the most touching is a metal fragment with the word ‘best’ written on it – one-half of a pendant that would be completed by the word ‘friend’ if reunited with the other part. Among her most prized presents from the neighbourhood crows is a pearl-coloured heart. It’s showing me how much they love me,’ Gabi told the podcast The BitterSweet Life and the BBC. ‘They give me all the special stuff you could ever find. ‘We know these are from the crows that sometimes they are rusted and dirty and nothing like what a person would carry around. Sometimes we find them on the bird feeder.’

Screen shot 2015-03-04 at 11.36.51 AMPhoto Source: Lisa Mann

The image above shows just some of Gabi’s favourite items left for her by birds in exchange for peanuts. Listen to the full podcast by The BitterSweet Life when they visited Gabi and her mother Lisa in Seattle. Her strange relationship with the birds began in 2011 when as a four-year-old she would accidentally drop food. Groups of crows began loitering around the family house hoping to pick up the scraps Gabi left behind. When she started going to school, Gabi began feeding them her lunch. The birds then started lining up to wait for the youngster to get off her bus at the end of the school day. Two years later Gabi and her mother Lisa began leaving food outside in their garden on a daily basis – filling the bird bath with water and leaving peanuts on feeders.


Members of the crow family are known to be among the cleverest of birds, but scientists are finding that they may have intelligence that rivals most mammals and even young children. An experiment by the University of Cambridge showed that crows can perform the task that three and four-year-old children have difficulty with. Scientists said that, while having very different brain structures, both crows and primates use a combination of mental tools, including imagination and the anticipation of possible future events, to solve similar problems. Other experiments involving the same family of birds found that Caledonian crows can use up to three tools in sequence to obtain food.

A study also found that rooks can use stones to raise the level of water in a vessel in order to bring a floating worm into reach. Urban-living carrion crows have been witnessed learning to use road traffic for cracking nuts. The problem-solving creature performed the series of tasks without seeing the fiendishly difficult set up of the course beforehand.

The wild crow learned to use individual props during its three months of captivity but had to work out the order in which to use them to complete the challenge and get an inaccessible treat. The bird was later released. In another astonishing test set up by BBC Two, a crow called 007 completed an eight stage puzzle in two and a half minutes. It is one of the most complex tests of the animal mind ever devised.

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Photo Source: The Daily Mail

The programme shows 007 the crow completing the eight stage puzzle in approximately two-and-a-half minutes. The individual processes are detailed in this diagram

As Gabi throws the food for the birds, crowds of crows – known as a murder – gather on telephone lines and the nearby fence. In return, the crows now leave trinkets on the empty bird feeder – including a broken light bulb, earrings, pieces of Lego, rusted screws, polished rocks and glass beads. Gabi keeps all of the bits in carefully labelled pots and ranks them according to her favourite.

She said: ‘I think they know my favourite colour – blue. They know that I like Lego and shiny things. They are my type.’ Crows are known to be highly intelligent creatures – capable of solving complex puzzles and problems to obtain food.

Experts say they can often form strong bonds with people that feed them, but equally can mark out those that they consider a threat. People who have thrown stones at crows or tried to help an injured chick can find themselves mobbed by the creatures for weeks or even years afterwards.

In perhaps the most astonishing story, however, Gabi’s mother Lisa describes how the crows in their neighbourhood appear to keep watch over the family. Lisa Mann and her daughter Gabi (above) have formed a unique bond with the crows in their neighbourhood. She said that on one occasion she had been out to  a nearby jungle, taking photographs of an eagle when she dropped her lens cap on the floor and forgot to pick it up before walking home. She said: ‘About an hour later I went back outside to see if I could find it and a crow had put it on the side of one of the bird baths. ‘I looked at the surveillance video to find out if it was a crow and you can see it bring it into the yard, walk it to the bird bath and spends time rinsing the lens cap and puts it on the side of the bird bath. It was pretty impressive.

‘I’m sure it was intentional. They watch us all the time.’ Gabi Mann keeps her collection of gifts from the birds carefully arranged in bags and pots shown above. Gabi Mann keeps her collection of gifts from the birds carefully arranged in bags and pots shown above. Gabi herself believes her relationship with the crows has given her a special bond with the natural world and calls herself Nature Girl. She is highly protective of the gifts she has received from the birds, not allowing anyone to touch the trinkets.

Her mother said: ‘For the most part the common denominator is that they are shiny and small enough to fit in their mouth.’

Professor John Marzluff, an expert on avian social ecology at the University of Washington, said he believes the crows may be offering up the gifts as they would to a potential mate. Speaking to The BitterSweet Life podcast, he said: ‘I have seen an awful lot of things crows bring people. They do bring gifts whether it is always going to happen, I don’t think so.

The crows regularly carry gifts, like above, to the water bath and bird feeder in the family’s garden after eating. ‘Certain individual crows the bond they form with that person might be more of a courtship bond where they are bringing presents like they would for their mates. ‘For some people they are dead baby birds and other people they get shiny pendants or beautiful glass.’ For anyone hoping to form a bond with some corvids, he has some advice.

‘The best thing you can do if you want to form a bond with a crow is to be consistent in rewarding them for whatever the action is with a few peanuts in the shell,’ he said. They like that food as it is a high-fat high energy food and it makes noise when you throw it on the ground. They quickly habituate to your routine. They will follow you.’

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