MALIBU—Richard Stern, a former UCLA Statistics professor has an interest in local birds. Birds are comfortable enough with Stern to eat out of his hand. He calls feeding and watching birds his “hobby and passion,” according to The Malibu Times.

A few of his favorite birds are Crows, Jays, Ravens, and Magpies. He became interested in corvid birds which are related to crows, at age 12 when he became close friends with a scrub jay. Many locals refer to scrub jays as blue jays since they are the same color but, blue jays do not exist in California. Corvid birds are abundant in Malibu.

Stern explains in an interview with Malibu Times, “Corvids because they’re so intelligent; if you extend friendship to them, they will return it,” he describes. “I may be attributing more human emotions to it, but that’s the impression I have. Crows, actually all corvids, will recognize humans for two reasons. They need to recognize potential threats—people who could hurt them—and they also recognize people who are kind to them. As far as the crows are concerned, where I feed them, every crow within a half-mile knows me. Whenever I walk around outside they’ll flock to me.”

When Stern was at UCLA, he had befriended a scrub jay he named “William.” During his tenure, he had thousands of student, some who witnessed him feeding the bird out of his hand. Stern shared with The Malibu Times, “Every day I was at UCLA he would wait for me. I really loved that bird. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him. I still miss him.”

Richard Stern is an award-winning statistics professor at UCLA who taught at the school for more than 25 years. He has lived in Malibu for more than 20 years and works as the principal scientist at a financial services company.