the girl who gets gifts from birds
katy sewell // bbc

lots of people love the birds in their garden, but it's rare for that affection to be reciprocated. one young girl in seattle is luckier than most. she feeds the crows in her garden - and they bring her gifts in return.


she didn't gather this collection. each item was a gift - given to her by crows.

she holds up a pearl coloured heart. it is her most-prized present. 'it's showing me how much they love me.'

gabi's relationship with the neighbourhood crows began accidentally in 2011. she was four years old, and prone to dropping food. She'd get out of the car, and a chicken nugget would tumble off her lap. A crow would rush in to recover it. soon, the crows were watching for her, hoping for another bite. 


in 2013, gabi and lisa started offering food as a daily ritual, rather than dropping scraps from time to time.

each morning, they fill the backyard birdbath with fresh water and cover bird-feeder platforms with peanuts. gabi throws handfuls of dog food into the grass. as they work, crows assemble on the telephone lines, calling loudly to them.

it was after they adopted this routine that the gifts started appearing.

the crows would clear the feeder of peanuts, and leave shiny trinkets on the empty tray; an earring, a hinge, a polished rock. there wasn't a pattern. gifts showed up sporadically - anything shiny and small enough to fit in a crow's mouth.

one time it was a tiny piece of metal with the word 'best' printed on it. 'i don't know if they still have the part that says 'friend',' gabi laughs, amused by the thought of a crow wearing a matching necklace.


gabi has been given some icky objects. her mother threw out a rotting crab claw, for example.


her most amazing gift came just a few weeks ago, when she lost a lens cap in a nearby alley while photographing a bald eagle as it circled over the neighbourhood.

she didn't even have to look for it. it was sitting on the edge of the birdbath.

had the crows returned it? lisa logged on to her computer and pulled up their bird-cam. there was the crow she suspected. 'you can see it bringing it into the yard. walks it to the birdbath and actually spends time rinsing this lens cap.'

"i'm sure that it was intentional," she smiles. "they watch us all the time. i 'm sure they knew I dropped it. i'm sure they decided they wanted to return it."


in tennessee, real snowflakes embedded in a sheet of ice from freezing rain.  (mark owens/kevin wall, #TNwx)