Crows love peanuts in the shell. I put them on my back deck, and crows, as well as bluejays, come and get them. I have an interesting video of a crow shelling a peanut in front of the camera on YouTube.
Anyways, last fall, this guy shows up one day, and I notice his beak has the part of the top half broken off. So I grab my camera and shoot this movie through the kitchen window.
When he goes to the steps, my angle of view is poor, and I can’t see what he’s doing. I think he managed to find a peanut out of the shell, and break it into pieces small enough to eat by trapping it in the corner where tread meets riser, and spearing at it with the bottom part of his beak. But he didn’t seem to get much out of that.
A crow’s beak is the closest thing they have to our opposable thumbs, and a crow missing part of its beak is in big trouble. He can’t pick up a peanut or anything else the way he normally would, having to try it sideways as I’ve seen other crows do when they’re trying to pick up something small.
The top part of a crow’s beak has a downward curve – a hook, which allows them to tear food off or away from whatever it’s attached to, be it the bones of a mouse, or a Mary Brown’s chicken box. Missing a lot of the top part of this crow’s beak is a real handicap.
And, let’s not forget, beaks are not just for feeding, they’re for fighting too.
I only saw this fella once. He never came back. I don’t think he (or she) lasted long. I felt sorry for the poor thing, and wondered how it came to be injured in this way.
Nature is unforgiving.