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Old 12-11-2002, 06:56 PM
Elizabeth Elizabeth is offline
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Can Crows really talk?

Hello all,......... can someone please tell me, if a crows tongue has been split, cut, or altered, can he then speak. I have heard this from several people now, but have yet to hear a crow talk.
sounds kinda absurd to me........but does anyone know for sure. thanks, got 10 bucks on this one
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Old 12-11-2002, 06:58 PM
UncleBill UncleBill is offline
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Mynah birds are black with yellow around the head. They mimic human sounds well, and could be confused for a crow by someone who didn't know birds very well. I hope you bet Crows cannot talk.
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:07 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Jackdaws (corvus monedula) can mimic human speech.
Not quite a crow, but very nearly.
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:08 PM
flabbygirlyman flabbygirlyman is offline
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I've heard of this. I don't know if it's true. But I would not doubt if crows could actually talk ; they are quite clever ! But it would be cruel to split a crow's tongue to find out. That would hurt terribly; 10 bucks isn't enough . Make it 100 , and split the money with the crow.
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:09 PM
Elizabeth Elizabeth is offline
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hello unclebill, Yeah I told them about Mynah birds looking like crows, but they insisted it was a crow. and yes i bet crows cant talk. thanks for your reply, Liz
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:12 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Yes! it appears that crows can mimic the human voice (I don't think they even need their tongues mutilated to do so).

cite:
Quote:
This bird has been known to mimic the human voice, and if an American crow is kept as a pet, it sometimes learns an assortment of words
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:17 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Crows (and also Ravens) can be taught to mimic human speech. Splitting the tongue, however, has nothing to do with it.

From this site (page 2):

Quote:

Crows can mimic sounds made by other birds and animals and have been taught to mimic the human voice. The myth that splitting the tongue allows a crow to talk better, however, is not true and is needlessly cruel.
Starlings also can be taught to speak.
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:19 PM
Elizabeth Elizabeth is offline
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Mangetout...... thanks so much for the info........boy, Im glad I didnt bet more than 10 bucks : )
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:20 PM
Larry Mudd Larry Mudd is offline
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My older brother kept a pet crow, and everyone in my family says it could imitate a few words. Me, I was <3yo at the time, so I don't recall.
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:46 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Incidentally, I have an upcoming Staff Report on talking birds that should appear in the next month or so.

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Old 12-11-2002, 07:48 PM
KRC KRC is offline
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First, no bird should have its tongue split--that does not enhance the ability to mimic human language and might actually kill the bird. Second, I have heard crows make sounds that resembled words ("mama" and "hello") although I'm not sure if the crows were copying human speech or just making crow noises that sounded like words.

Anyway, here's another link with more crow info:

http://www.crows.net/language.html
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Old 12-11-2002, 08:03 PM
Desmostylus Desmostylus is offline
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Quoth the raven: "Eat my shorts".
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Old 12-11-2002, 08:12 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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It is my understanding the Adelaide Crows speak very well.

Well, sort of ...

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Old 12-11-2002, 08:18 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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Wild crows (is there such a thing?) often mimic other animals, esp dogs.
A neighborhood crow used to try to mimic my dads table saw. He'd also make chicken sounds for a treat.
Peace,
mangeorge
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Old 12-12-2002, 12:03 AM
Slugworth Slugworth is offline
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Either the Brookfield zoo or the Lincoln Park zoo, I forget which, has a talking raven that always amazed me as a kid. Its pronunciation was actually pretty impressive.
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Old 12-12-2002, 01:09 AM
Hup the Fool Hup the Fool is offline
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Similar to what mangeorge said, up until about a year ago there was a crow around my house that meowed like a cat. The first couple of times I heard it I actually thought there was a cat up in the tree.
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Old 12-12-2002, 01:11 AM
brachyrhynchos brachyrhynchos is offline
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Another pers. obs. on American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) and another corvid, American Magpie (Pica hudsonia) talking.
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Old 12-12-2002, 01:46 AM
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I sure thought that very black bird kept in the St. Louis department store was a crow, as a kid.

He could pretty clearly say, "Hello", if coaxed enough.
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Old 12-12-2002, 05:31 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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When my family lived in St. Louis a neighbor kid had a pet crow - just a common, ordinary crow he rescued as a baby after it was thrown or fallen out of a nest. Definitely could speak human words.

But - DO NOT split or otherwise alter a bird's tongue!!! I'd like to kill the [expletive deleted] who started that cruel myth. It is TOTALLY unnecessary, and no doubt horribly painful for the bird. If anything, I'd say it would make the animal LESS likely to speak, not more.
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Old 12-12-2002, 05:41 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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The split tongue thing may be a crossover from the dubious belief that a cat's 'meow' becomes some human word (I forget, it may be 'mama') when the tongue is split.

What Broomstick said - don't do it (not directed at you, Elizabeth, anyone).
  #21  
Old 12-12-2002, 09:57 AM
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I think y'all may have the wrong idea.

My understanding (from talking with old-timers who supposedly did this) is that the tongue is not split, but rather that the connective tissue under the tongue is cut, allowing the tongue to move around more freely. Supposedly, this allows the crow to better imitate human words.

And yes, this sounds cruel to me, too.
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Old 12-12-2002, 11:59 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Well, the whole tongue business in general is ridiculous because birds don't really use the tongue to shape vocalizations. After all, they don't have lips to work in conjunction with the tongue.

In this respect they are very different from humans. Birds use the complex muscles of the syrinx (a special organ) at the junction between the trachea and the bronchii to form sounds, in contrast to mammals, which use a larynx at the top of the trachea.
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Old 12-12-2002, 12:27 PM
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Back in grade school, a kid in my class had a talking crow that followed him around. It could say "hello" and such. It would follow him to school, wait for recesses, hang around near or on him when he was outside and then follow him home.

The really odd thing is that the bird just started doing this on it's own one day. It must have had a previous human, lost him, and then picked this kid as his new human. Weird.
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Old 12-12-2002, 03:52 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quote:
The really odd thing is that the bird just started doing this on it's own one day. It must have had a previous human, lost him, and then picked this kid as his new human. Weird.
"...Caught from some unhappy master
whose unmerciful disaster
followed fast, and followed faster
'till his song one burden bore..."

Magpies, meanwhile, don't seem to say much of anything, in human or magpie language: We've got tons of them around here, and I've never heard an utterance from any of them. I'll take brachyrhynchos' word for it, of course, that they can, but it seems that they don't often want to.
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Old 12-12-2002, 04:17 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chronos
Magpies, meanwhile, don't seem to say much of anything, in human or magpie language: We've got tons of them around here, and I've never heard an utterance from any of them. I'll take brachyrhynchos' word for it, of course, that they can, but it seems that they don't often want to.
Maybe you should try striking up a conversation. Perhaps the ones up where you are are a bit shy.

Magpies are notorius for chattering, in particular those cut-ups Heckle and Jeckle.

Actually, I think most corvids (crows, ravens, jackdaws, rooks, magpies, and jays) are mimics to some extent. I even saw one site that mentioned a Blue Jay that was able to talk, although it could say only one word.
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Old 12-12-2002, 04:47 PM
brachyrhynchos brachyrhynchos is offline
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It was only those citified (read captive) magpies that ever deigns to speak to me. Their free-ranging pals would only throw corvid epitaphs my way.

I've never heard a Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata), to my recollection, utter a word, yet I would be surprised if they did. I have heard some remarkable mimicry, like a convincing Red-tailed Hawk call. My favorite was the sound of a radio receiver. I daily checked the territory of a radio-tagged crow, carrying said receiver which beeped pretty loudly. One day I noticed that as my receiver was going "BEEP BEEP BEEP" I could hear a fainter "beep beep beep" alternating in the woodlot. "BEEP beep BEEP beep BEEP beep...." The jay flew out calling to the beeping organism I was carrying.

Weird.
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Old 12-12-2002, 05:08 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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It's not a corvid, but I can't resist saying a little more about the European Starling. Few people realize the ordinary city starling, so often considered a pest, can be taught to talk.

This article on Mozart's Starling describes their ability, and how Mozart's beloved pet seems to have inspired him to compose A Musical Joke.
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Old 12-12-2002, 06:54 PM
Elizabeth Elizabeth is offline
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thanks all for your reply........broomstick, I would never do such a thing. I once raised a crow, for about 1 year, he never said a word. but then i didnt know they could talk. but red ants killed him. his name was barney.....loved that bird. he was always acting silly, so when I saw him jumpping around his cage, i just smiled and said that silly bird. if only I`d known : (
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Old 12-12-2002, 09:43 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Crows would talk if they had something to crow about.

How can a crow say "Hello" or any word with a consonant in it? They don't have lips. Bird books say birds make a song that goes: [here follows the words to the song], but since they don't have lips, they don't actually pronounce any consonants, do they?
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  #30  
Old 12-12-2002, 10:52 PM
brachyrhynchos brachyrhynchos is offline
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My kakariki (a tiny parrot) tells me "You're a brat" all the time and quite clearly. B is his favorite sound - "big bad brat bird"; "you're bad you're bad you're bad"; "You're a bad bad bad bad birdie" are but a few of his daily chants.

His name is Brat.

He can do this because of his neuronal control over the finely musculatured syrinx that Colibri mentioned. Not all birds have both these structures, nor as well developed. But the Psittaciformes (parrots) and Passeriformes (songbirds like the starling) do. Some have neuronal development to the degree that they can easily incorporate new sounds into their repertoire. Control can be as fine as vibrating the syrinx halves differentially. Lyrebirds are perhaps the master at this.

To hear how incredible Lyrebirds vocalize, go to these two pages:
Sidney Curtis Lyrebird recordings. and
The Life of Birds recordings On this link, about two-thirds the way down, is the recording of a lyrebird mimicking a chainsaw, plus just some plain funky sounds.
  #31  
Old 12-12-2002, 11:01 PM
Hrdygrdymn Hrdygrdymn is offline
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The problem isn't getting crows to speak English, but to get them to stop speaking Middle English

From: The Twa Corbies (13th? century verse)

As I was walking all alane
I heard twa corbies makin' mane
And one ontae the other did say
Where will we gang and dine the day
Where will we gang and dine the day

In ahind yon oul fail dyke
I wot there lies a new slain knight
Naebody kens that he lies there
But his hawk and hound and his lady fair
His hawk and hound and his lady fair
  #32  
Old 12-13-2002, 05:18 AM
Desmostylus Desmostylus is offline
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The Australian raven, corvus coroniodes, has no difficulty making itself understood, at least to English speakers.

Its cry is a very loud and unmistakable "Faarrkk".

I haven't yet worked out what it is that annoys it so much.
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