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Forsyth, Georgia
January 23, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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January 23, 2019

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Page 2B January 23, 2019 Re-porter MONROE OUTDOORS by Terry W. Johnson ne of the most ~lressful, and ,mournful expen- ences we face in our lives is to attend a funeral. At such a time, we pay our last re- spects to a person before we lay them to resL We have long thought that this ceremony is unique to humans. However, research conducted over the past several decades has caused many scientists to question whether TERRY W. or not such is actu- ally the cas Take the/u-nerican Crow, for example. Over the years there have been numerous reports of crows conducting funer- als over a dead crow. These events follow the same general pattern. Supposedb, a crow spots a dead crow and sounds an alarm to the members of its flock. In a matter of minutes, anywhere from half a dozen to scores of crows begin land- ing on the limbs of nearby trees and shrubs. Sometimes the flock (aLso known as a murder) remains silent. Other times their loud cawing can be heard far from the site. These vigils can last for days or end in a few minutes. Some observers have reported crows actually placing sticks or other objects atop the deceased bird. It is easyto understand why such gatherings are considered funerals. However, in situations such as this, it is always dangerous to attribute human JOHNSON emotions and behaviors to wild animals without knowing whether or not a wild animal is capable of mourning the loss of another. Researchers at Washington State University are at the forefront of a growing number ofbiologists trying to solve this myster The findings of their groundbreaking research have been published in the Associa- tion for the Study of Animal Behaviors Journal. Before initiating their research, they considered possible explanations for this bizarre behavior. In addi- tion to the notion crows are actually grieving over the loss of a cohort, they considered two other theories that might explain why the crows descend on a dead companion to can- nibalize its corpse or use the event as a learning experience. Since there are no records ofclp, ws eating dead crows, it appears that cannibalism is not the reason why crows congre- gate around departed crows. To test whether or not crows use the discovery of a dead crow as a social learning experience, they des'tgned a deceptively simple experiment using only a rubber monster mask, and a stuffed mad-killed American crow and red-tailed hawk. They began the study by lo- caring the territories of 65 pairs of American crows. Once located, they fed the crows within each territory for three days. The amount of time it took the crows to arrive at the food was recorded. This was followed by a researcher bringing food to the birds in each territory while wearing a rubber monster mask. This was ton wed by the folks bringing the food wear- ing a rubber monster mask in three different ways. They ei- ther carried a crow, a red-tailed hawk or toted both a crow and a red-tailed hawk. In four instances, the birds would simply fly in silently, peruse the scene and leave. Typicall)~ though, a territo- rial pair would fly in and begin Crows are known to gather over a dead crow and hold either a silent vigil or one with loud cawing. (Photo/Terry Johnson) loudly calling. ~ would attract 10 or more other crow~ The raucous calling would last for 10-20 minutes before dropping in intensity before the birds finally exited. The researchers found that the crows took longer (15-30 minutes) to approach the food when a masked researcher brought food when accompa- nied by a mounted crow, hawk or hawk and dead crow. Thus, biologists found the crows' responses were most pro- nounced when a masked re- searcher was present alongside a dead crow or crow and hawk than when an individual was accompanied with neither a dead crow or hawk. They also noted that after an encounter with a costumed human by a stuffed crow and/or hawk, the crows were more reticent to approach a feeding site. This led the researchers to condude that crows are not actually holding funerals. Instead, they are probably using the gather- ing as a learning experience As the researchers put it, crows most likely use such experi- ences --- assess danger and trigger anti-predator behav- ior' Interestingly, a full six wedcs after the experiments ended, whenever anybody wearing the rubber mask appeared, 38 percent of the time they were mobbed by crows. While this study provides a plausible explanation for the phenomenon of why crows appear to hold funerals, the research team cautioned that until scientists are able to drive into the thought processes of crows, they cannot be ab- solutely certain these highly intelligent birds do not mourn for their dead in ways eerily similar to our owrL Terry Johnson is retired Pro- : M, ger of the Nongame-Endangerea W'itrrfe tMggmm. He has written the informative column 'Monroe O, aa,o 'for V, ep,'ter " numy years. Email him at Continued from Front on a fast break layup by Wiliiams with 29 seconds left in the first quarter. Williams then dropped a long left elbow three-pointer with one second left in the period to give MP its first lead, 24-21, through one quarter. Bouie then capped a 15-0 MP run with a layup, which was preceded by two straight tip-ins by Shannon, to give MP a 31-21 edge with 5:39 left In the second quarter. How- ever, Howard cut the Dogs' lead back down to two at 37-35 after a 14-6 run in which the Huskies knocked down a trio of three-point- ers, including two by reserve Leon Pitts. But Shannon connected on a triple of his own off fan assist from Brandon Hogan to close out the first half and stake MP to a six-point halftime edge at 42-36. The Bulldogs then came out ofhalftime on a 9-3 spurt, capped by a no-look assist from Hogan to ZeUner for a layup to give MP a 51-39 edge. Hartage later added back-to- back fast-break layups to put MP ahead by 13 at 60-47 with 2:06 left in the period. The Dogs' excellent all-around play would then continue with 10 seconds left in the third quarter when WiUiams splashed a three- pointer from the left wing to give the Dogs a commanding 17-point advantage, 67-50, through three quarters. Despite a number of missed layups in the fourth quarter, MP would go on to outscore the Huskies 11-7 in the final period to cruise to a 21-point win. Williams led all scorers with 25 points. He was joined in double figures by team- mates Shannon with 16 and Hartage with 11. Tarver led Howard with 16 points. He was joined in double figures by teammate Kelvin Burrell with 10. Nix said MP'S victory over Howard was a result of the Bulldogs seizing command in the first half and playing hard for the entire game. "I had a talk with the seniors yesterday and told them we were getting toward the end," Nix said. "This wasn't the kind of season that I had wanted for them. We've still got time. I just wanted to remind them of that. We can still do a lot of good things. I thought we had a nice 10-minute meeting. And tonight I came in here and showed them some statis- tics of how we had only won the first quarter six times all year. We were 3-3 in those games, but we had just won the first quarter six times. 'We've only been ahead at half- time three times. We've been playing from behind all year long. Tonight, we're here at home. It's a region game. We're better than this. We're better than what our record is. Let's win the first quarter. Let's win the first hal And the first quarter was up for grabs. But we accomplished that goal. And then I thought we played probably the best defense we've played all year, getting down, moving our feet, geRing in the passing lanes, playing the ball screens well. And we were getting steals from it, but we were also finishing good defensive possessions with rebounds. Dre Zellner played well down there. And Brandon (Hogan) didn't have a real good * game offensivdy, but he battled like crazy defensively, and that was a big keX The Bulldogs were next scheduled to travel to West Laurens to play a road region , contest at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesda) MP will then travel to Upson-Lee to face the state's ": No. 1 -ranked AAAA squad at 7:30 p.m. on Friday before playing a non-region road contest at Hampton at 7:30 p,m. on Saturday The Bulldogs will then return home to host region rival Perry in its regular season home finale at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29. MP's six seniors will be honored prior to the Perry game. Meanwhile, the MP JV boys basketball team was next scheduled to face West Lau- rens on the road at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesda)~ The IV boys squad will then travel to Hampton for another road contest at 4:15 p.m. on Sat- " urday before returning home to host Perry in " its regular season home finale at 4:15 p.m. on ." Tuesday, Jan. 29. Parents, here is your chance to support your In the 2019 MP Spring Sports Preview in The Reporter! I I I I I I 1 I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I Phone' I I I Player's Name: I I I Message in ad: I Small Dog ($20) Regular Dog ($40) [--7 Dog ($60) I I t Check One: I I I t Email to or fax to 994-2359 or call 994-2358 , I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I /aites t Love, Mol --I