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I live in a semi-rural area in Germany, close to a park which trains go through every 20 minutes.

Today, I saw something that left me perplexed.

There is a large population of birds that look like crows or ravens, yet fatter. They seem to be quite social and move around in large groups. Today, I spotted one carefully laying sticks from a nearby tree on the train track while the others seemed to spectate.

What exactly was that bird doing? Is this common? Did it have a purpose, or was it just coincidental?

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Some corvids do use tools, and are fast learners. Could these be using the train and tracks as tools to cut sticks up smaller? –  EnergyNumbers Feb 2 '13 at 10:50
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There is a book, In the Company of Crows and Ravens that details human-corvid interactions. That might provide insights for you. The link is: yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300100760 –  kmm Feb 2 '13 at 14:05
    
@Kevin - Thanks, reading it. –  Francisco P. Feb 2 '13 at 16:12
    
@EnergyNumbers - I want to believe :) –  Francisco P. Feb 3 '13 at 0:53
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If the birds are doing in this in a place where you can watch them repeatedly, why not set up camera to watch them? I recommend a pocket camcorder with a big SD card (which is nice to have in general). I don't think anyone will be able to tell you for sure without footage of what they do after putting them on the tracks. They could have just chosen a really bad place for a nest, or it could even be courtship behavior. –  Atl LED Jan 8 at 14:28

2 Answers 2

There is a large population of birds that look like crows or ravens, yet fatter. They seem to be quite social and move around in large groups.

First of all, this seems like a crow. Crows are very social birds, they live in flocks or murder.

Theory: It may be a Mating Ritual?

No! The have a very spectacular mating ritual!.

Theory: It's Making a nest

Obviously No! Crows nests are always way hidden at 18-60 feet above ground(mostly) in the tree trunk.

My Theory

Crows are very curious birds. What you saw, might be a new play the young crows found. It's common that crows will do unusual thing when spectated by the elders and siblings.

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Crows have been known to use human actions in order to accomplish their own purposes: read this story about them using cars and waiting for the lights to change at a crossroads. Then of course, the question is whether they have a specific purpose in your case with these sticks, or whether it's just... for the fun of it?

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