Crows Are Smart—And Hold Grudges

22:50 Mon 27 Jul 2009
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This was on BoingBoing, but I can’t resist posting about it: NPR have a story about crows recognizing human faces, holding grudges, and passing related information to other crows.

The researchers involved became aware of this after abandoning crow babies, at which point crows started squawking at them wherever they went. To determine how the crows recognized them, they tried wearing Halloween masks and discovered that once the crows took a dislike to the person wearing the mask, the mask could be switched between people, at which point the crows would remain unhappy with whoever was wearing the mask.

They didn’t say whether or not they switched the mask in view of the crows, which would have been an interesting addition to the experiment.

I already knew that crows were smart, but this is a little disturbing—either don’t piss off crows, or wear a mask when you do.

The mask aspect reminds me that Bengal tigers learned to recognize which way humans were facing and could then be fooled by masks. I believe that some of the tigers have now learned to distinguish between the masks and real faces, but I couldn’t find a source for that.

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