CrowTok: Revolutionizing Human-Crow Relationships for a Harmonious Coexistence

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TikTok has become a haven for users fascinated by the unique bond between humans and crows, fostering a community dubbed “CrowTok.”

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Nicole Steinke, known as @Tangobird on TikTok, shares her experiences feeding a crow family from her balcony in Alexandria, Virginia. This family, comprising six members including Waffles, Doc, Dotty, and their offspring DocTok—named by Steinke’s 284,000 followers—receives peanuts twice daily, with occasional treats of walnuts and cashews.

Should Steinke run out of treats, the crows aren’t shy about seeking her out, even squawking for her attention in public, leading to startled reactions from those unacquainted with her crow connections. “People assume death is near,” she joked with the MIT Technology Review, drawing parallels to the superstitions surrounding black cats.

However, within the confines of TikTok, these crows are celebrated, carving out their niche in “CrowTok,” a community that’s seen significant growth over the past two years.

“CrowTok” isn’t limited to crows but embraces the entire Corvidae family, including magpies and ravens. Steinke’s content also highlights the reciprocal nature of these avian-human relationships, with birds often leaving “gifts” for their human benefactors.

The unique dynamics of crow-human interactions are underscored by the birds’ distinct personalities and intelligence, drawing parallels with human social structures. Crows can recognize individual human faces and are thought to possess a level of self-awareness akin to humans.

Kevin McGowan, a Cornell ornithologist, notes, “Their social systems closely mirror that of Western human societies.”

Crows value their family units yet also interact with peers outside their immediate circle, a trait they share with humans. Their integration into human societies, a process known as synanthropy, suggests a co-evolution with humans, particularly in response to human behaviors, such as hunting crows in the past.

Julie Morley, in her book “Crow Cosmopolotics,” argues that crows have developed a cautious approach to humans, a survival tactic stemming from their historical persecution.

McGowan emphasizes that while feeding crows can foster a bond, it must be approached with care to avoid creating a nuisance. Establishing a bond with crows entails a commitment to regular feeding; otherwise, it’s best avoided to prevent unwanted crow behavior in neighborhoods.

Feeding crows for social media content requires a responsible approach, mindful of the potential for disrupting local crow populations and human communities alike.

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