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An unexpected gift of friendship at Tulsa Botanic Garden

Posted at 8:00 AM, Aug 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-17 12:40:52-04

TULSA, Okla. — Registration is open for the Tulsa Botanic Garden's Scarecrow Contest.

Every year creative scarecrow entries are voted upon during "Autumn in the Garden," and it seems there may be a special judge this fall. A crow took a garden employee under his wing.

It's an unlikely friendship that started last fall with horticulturalist Julie Powers. "I had heard about people befriending crows, and I wanted to do that," said Powers.

So, Powers began putting out peanuts and calling to the crow.

"I would show him the peanuts and hold them out in my hand and let them see them and put them down and walk away. And he'd eventually come down," said Powers. She says the crow began daily visits creeping closer after about three months to keep her company.

"I just love having him as a friend. He's a wild animal, he can do whatever he wants, and the fact that he knows me and that he'll come down and take snacks from me is pretty special," said Powers. Then something extra special happened. The crow surprised her with a gift. "Late spring or early summer was the first time we found one. He leaves them down on the rock wall where we usually feed him," said Powers.

He's left around a dozen so far. They're shiny objects from crystals to coins. "It's so exciting. We come every morning to look," says Powers. Wildlife experts say friendships like these are rare, but they've been documented worldwide.

They add that while many species use gifts to attract a partner, crows and corvids are the only ones believed to give gifts to humans. The crow gifting happens every few weeks, and this past month, Powers gifted her crow-friend with a name. "I decided to name him Russell, after the actor Russell Crowe!" says Powers.

An unexpected gift of friendship that, like most, involves a little give and take. "I think he's saying thank you. I think he's appreciative of the peanuts we're leaving him and trying to do something for what we're giving him in return," says Powers.

By the way, Powers is looking forward to the upcoming Scarecrow Contest. She says she can't wait to see which one Russell will choose as his favorite. For more on the contest and the Tulsa Botanic Garden, click here:

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