City Crows Build Nests Out of Coat Hangers

Apr 28, 2014 5 comments

When Aesop wrote the famous fable “The Crow and the Pitcher”, he wasn’t making up a story. The fable was based on actual observation that was confirmed by recent scientific studies that found that crows, indeed, do just the same as the crow in the fable when presented with a similar situation. Crows are remarkably intelligent creatures who demonstrate complex skills like the ability to manufacture and use tools, remember human faces, and use individual experience to predict, plan and adapt to their environment. Crows are found to bend wires into hooks to acquire hard to reach food, crack open walnuts by dropping them into pavements from a height, and even memorize the schedule of the garbage truck so that could pick up some tasty morsels.


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Food isn’t the only motivation factor that drive crows to adaptability. Crows also demonstrate intelligence when building nests, using whatever materials that are available to construct them. A typical nest is composed of interlocking twigs, often recycled from the old nest, and pieces of wires of various lengths and thickness, gathered from the surrounding, to strengthen the nest structure. Tokyo residents have observed that crows in the city have learned to use coat hangers instead.

In such a large city, there are few trees, so the natural materials that crows need to make their nests are scarce. As a result, the crows will often steal hangers from the people who live in apartments nearby, and carefully assemble them into intricate nests. The completed nests almost look like works of art.

Nests built from hangers were also discovered in other Japanese cities. In Fukuoka City, the Jungle Crow would often make nests atop power lines during the breeding season that could cause large blackouts due to short circuiting. The Kyushu Electric power company actually has "crow patrols" that search out and destroy hanger nests on their power grid.

Also see: Massive Bird Nests on Telephone Poles


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Sources: Besgroup / Sinister Pictures / Cracked  via Oddity Central


  1. Pretty neat. It would be cool to see a progression of pictures showing the construction of the nest.

  2. Where do they get all these coat hangers?

    1. When I lived in Tokyo, I used to watch the crows take hangers from my neighbors' balconies. (Hangers were used to hang out washing to dry.) The crows would work in pairs to remove the clothing from the hangers and then one would fly off with the hanger. I'd never seen the nests though.

    2. AWESOME
      but its also kinda sad.
      It is a shame that there are no longer enough trees, twigs, and whatever left in these areas for crows to build their nests in and with.
      Smart, improvising, hardworking... AND they RECYCLE!!!
      They could teach a few humans a thing or two! :)

  3. They appear to be taking over some areas from other birds. I have seen huge flocks, hundreds at a time, in California's central valley near Fresno. I see very few other birds there. I wonder if that's also true in Japan?


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