Smart Bird

Inside the Outdoors, July 8,

Before I start with my column today, I wish to share a question a gent stated while at the Latrobe Farmers’ Market recently. He commented that he had seen an advertisement for an electric fish in a magazine that was jointed in the middle. “Is it legal in Pennsylvania to use these lures?

Very often, people ask questions I have no clue as to the answers. This was one of the cases. So what do I do when I’m in doubt? The same thing I told him to do. Contact the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and see what someone there would tell me.

As usual, I talked to Captain Dan Christ who said, “One can use anything that is battery-operated so as to be lit.” Since companies are always coming up with something new to lure the angler, it sure worked on this fisher.

If by chance, if someone catches a large fish using one such lure, contact me at 724-539-1951. I think it would surely be a good story and one worth snagging onto...


Another passerby walked up to me at the Market and handed me a piece of paper all the time stating, “Maybe you can use this information for your column.” After reading it, I found it interesting and thought it was worth sharing.

“According to ornithologists, the most intelligent bird is the common crow. Surprised? Eagles and vultures use rocks to break open hard-shelled eggs. Urban crows do kind of the same thing to open hard walnut shells, only they utilize cars. At busy intersections in cities around the world, they’ve been observed standing on the sidewalks alongside pedestrians, waiting for the light to change. When it does, the crows hop to the middle of the street and drop a few walnuts. Then, they hop back to safety, wait for the light to turn green, and watch as the cars drive over the nuts, cracking them open. When the light turns red again, the crows hop back into the street and collect their meals.”

If that was an eyebrow raiser, get a load of what’s to follow from the same piece of literature.

“All members of the corvid family – crows, ravens, rooks, magpies, jackdaws, and jays – are intelligent, but none more so than crows and ravens. Much of what we know about these birds comes from two of the world’s leading corvid researchers, Nicky and Nathan Emery.

Their most famous experiment took place in 2002 when they studied New Caledonian crows, native to the South Pacific. The researchers placed a small canister full of insects inside a slim glass beaker and challenged a crow named Betty to get it out so she could eat the insects:

There was a little wire loop on top of the canister, but Betty couldn’t reach it with her beak; next to the beaker was a straight piece of wire. She picked it up and stuck it inside the beaker, but couldn’t lift up the canister.

What Betty did next stunned the scientific community: She pressed the piece of wire against the tabletop a few times and bent it into a small hook. Then she used the hook to remove the canister.

Clayton and Emery concluded, “Some corvids are not only superior in intelligence to birds of other avian species but also rival many nonhuman primates.”


Recently, I had the pleasure to talk to Tim at International Angler. He has one of the few fly shops left in the Pittsburgh/Greensburg areas. Of course, we are very blessed to have the Ligonier Outfitters and Newsstand in Ligonier who sells Orvis products and all the flies one would want to buy.

In talking to him, I asked him about fly-fishing in the Ligonier area in the Loyalhanna Creek. Usually Dan McMaster gives me the information as to my questions, but he was out of town for a couple of days and the person covering for him could not help me.

So I stated, “Tim, what flies would you use if you decided to come to our area along the Loyalhanna Creek particularly from Ligonier downstream?”

He didn’t have trouble spitting out a variety of choices. The Black Wollybugger is a great fly. If you tied it really big, you could catch a shark with it!” he said. A matter of fact, I was stopped by a prominent citizen of Latrobe who asked me, “Does this fly still work in the creek?” I answered to the affirmative even though I have yet to try one, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

Tim also suggested the caddis pupa, the pheasant tail nymph, Walt’s Worm, and Hares Ear. I would throw in a green weenie, as well. Have to promote our ‘hometown fly’ that was invented by the late Russ Mowry and Ken Igo.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-1951.