I was sitting around on a park bench somewhere between Shibuya and Shinjuku, killing time between editing my talk slides and actually going to Evolang in Kyoto. I had worked 17 hours on the computer the day before, and had worked around five hours that morning and afternoon, and this was my time to relax and enjoy the sights. So I took off my headphones, and tried to relax. Sadly, ’twas not to be.

For there were crows. Hundreds of crows. A murder of crows. And they kept quorking. The sound was at first soothing, and then perplexing. You see, a hawk flew by, and suddenly the woods exploded went up in raucous derision, before receding again. Later, they were all quorking at the same time. In short, there was some sort of self-maintenance in both the sound levels and in the timing.  It didn’t seem like random effects, and I’m willing to bet it’s not.

I tried to record it, but my computer was nowhere near good enough. To prove my point, try and listen to this: crows. Or take a look at how messy this is.

So, I have two requests for you, O reader: Do you have any long, relatively clean sound files of multiple crows cawing for minutes at a time? Or have you heard of any research on self-regulation of sound volume in corvids? If not, I’ll buy a recorder at some point, and see if I can do this study when I’m next hanging around a constable of ravens again.

Author: Richard

I am computational linguistics student at the University of Saarland; my undergraduate in Linguistics was at the University of Edinburgh. I am interested in evolutionary linguistics, particularly involving Bayesian phylogenetics, typology, and computer simulations. I am also interested in data management, web development, open documentation, and scientific workflows. My undergraduate thesis focused on the evolution and significance of word segmentation.

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