Many of us have read about the incredible things that corvids, the family that includes crows and ravens, can do. These amazingly intelligent birds can not only be taught to “talk,” but they can also recognize human faces, complete complex tasks to get food, and even have been known to bring gifts to humans that they regard as friends.
But can these intrepid animals hide their body or live without legs? Those were the questions swirling around the internet after a short video from Japan took the internet by storm.
— LIWJATAN (@keita_simpson) June 20, 2019
The video was shot in Nagoya, Japan, and posted by Keitaro Simpson. It appears to show a crow in a very strange position or one that is either doing a great job of hiding its legs or has lost them altogether.
Simpson told Newsweek that when he first came across the crow, he was taken aback as it looked like a “zombie.” But his opinion changed after a while and considered it to be “pretty.”
In no time, the internet was abuzz with speculations, and the video has been viewed over 11 million times to date! What on earth could this crow be doing? Many people just couldn’t take their eyes away from the video. But the biggest point of discussion was how much the crow resembled a gorilla!
While the mystery persisted, one person thought she had the answer to the curious images. Dr. Kaeli Swift is an ornithologist who specializes in corvid research and has an undying fascination and love for these birds.
After seeing the video herself, along with lots of outlandish comments about how it might have lost part of its body or be missing its legs, she decided to add some science to the discussion through a series of posts on Twitter.
For Dr. Swift, the first thing to know was that the crow was a large-billed species, hence the unusually big-looking face that was mistaken for a gorilla.
There’s a very strange (uncredited) video of crow making the rounds on reddit. Here’s the deal. First, this is a large-billed crow, which is why the face is looking a little out of proportion. pic.twitter.com/LUYuMimvAp
— Kaeli Swift, PhD (@corvidresearch) June 22, 2019
To all those who claimed that the crow had lost its legs and was standing on its wings, she replied “a crow without legs couldn’t fly, because it couldn’t generate any lift. So legless crow is a dead crow.” It would be “physically impossible” for a crow to put all of its weight on its wings.
But if the crow wasn’t injured, why would it assume such a seemingly unnatural position? According to Dr. Swift, the most probable answer was that the bird was doing some sunbathing. Crows will stretch their wings out, as the sunlight can help kill mites and other pests that try to make their homes in their wings.
As she wrote on Twitter, “when birds sun they drop their wings and cock their tails. At the right angle that could obscure the legs and tail making it look like they’re missing.”
Fellow bird researcher and PhD student Dave Slager responded with some other ideas about what could have made the bird look like that, including that it had lost lots of weight in the search for food. As he tweeted, “tired or hungry birds also often droop their wings down like this.”
To make things clearer, Dr. Swift made some doodles to show how crows look in different positions, including one reading “legs aligned with wings so they are concealed.”
However, for some Twitter users, all these scientific explanations didn’t make them change their minds, including one who reposted an image of the famous motto of the X-Files: “The truth is out there.” Gorilla crow or skinny crow taking a sun bath? You decide!