Don’t cross a crow. Although they are known for their loud caw and mucking up your garden, research has shown that they will also remember your face if they feel mean.
John Marzluff, a Zoologist, and his research team wore masks in a recent study to determine if the crows they were studying would remember their appearance.
The crows were followed by the team from five different locations. Each time they captured 7-15 birds while wearing masks. They would make a loud, repetitive “caw” and then scold the captured crows, accompanied by wing and tail flicking. This would sound like an alarm to other crows nearby. Other crows would also caw loudly, sometimes even “dive-bombing” the researchers.
Researchers switched to a neutral mask and the only time that the crows didn’t respond loudly was when they were repositioned.
As they moved from one location to the next, more and more crows began to distrust the researchers. Nearly 70% of the black birds distrusted the masked men after three years of study.
Because the amygdala of their brains is similar to that of humans and other mammals, crows can retain information about their “caretakers”. This is responsible for recognition.
Marzluff found that crows respond to a familiar face by displaying a similar brain activity to humans when they spot it in a follow-up study.
He noted that captive birds are more friendly if they are fed and treated well than animals to be feared.
It took scientists three years to discover what we knew in kindergarten: that the golden rule also applies to birds and other animals.
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