The crow was seen swooping down for a knife that was used in a crime scene. His exploits have been recorded by many news outlets. Vancouver’s most infamous bird has now achieved worldwide notoriety.

Canuck the Crow strikes again. 

Crows are known to be curious and intelligent creatures, so why would it pick up a knife? Wayne Goodey, a zoology lecturer at UBC, said city crows are sometimes attracted to shiny things.

“They might associate a shiny foil with edibles or food wrapping from a restaurant,” he said. “And they have no way of knowing it’s not food until they put it in their beaks.”

He also said the knife’s green handle might have appeared like food to the crow and piqued its interest.

“It was a crime of opportunity.”


Canuck the crow, Vancouver’s most notorious bird, is being accused of flying away with a knife from a crime scene.

As it turns out, Canuck is a minor Canadian celebrity –he was interviewed on the news last year after attacking a cyclist, and sometimes catches Vancouver’s SkyTrain around town without paying for a ticket like the insensitive freeloader he is. You have wings, Canuck! You have wings and the rest of us pay taxes. Turn your life around.

The key theft and knife-lifting came as little surprise to Kevin J. McGowan, a crow expert at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, – and not because they’re shiny objects. McGowan said crows’ purported interest in shimmering things is “folklore.” But when they’re young, he said, crows are often very interested in objects that they can pick up, manipulate, take apart and use in games with their siblings, he said. That’s even more true for hand-raised crows, which see up close that people possess and frequently use a lot of objects.

“They’re very social, especially when they’re growing up, and they like to interact with other crows. When they’re hand-raised by people, they love to interact with people,” McGowan said.

So Canuck might have seen the knife as the start of a fun game with a police officer and thought, “I’m going to grab that and steal it and maybe he’ll try to catch me,” McGowan said.

crows are among the smartest of animals

The crow that flew off with the knife was also spotted perched on the roof of the burned car at the scene. (Dan Toulgoet/Vancouver Courier)

Many scientists think crows are among the smartest of animals, and they’ve been shown to be able to recognize individual human faces. McGowan said they’re also keen observers and judges of individuals, seeing them as a “danger or a potential boon,” and perhaps a source of play or even humor. Canuck’s exploits are probably a sign of that, he said. “They’re not mature until they’re 2, and I mean that behaviorally,” McGowan said. “If he’s still a kid, that explains some of this stuff.”

Wayne Goodey, a zoology lecturer at the University of British Columbia told CBC that crows “might associate a shiny foil with edibles or food wrapping from a restaurant. And they have no way of knowing it’s not food until they put it in their beaks.”