American crows recognize people’s faces


From New Scientist:

If you think a crow is giving you the evil eye…

* 08:00 26 January 2010 by Bob Holmes

Wild crows can recognise individual human faces and hold a grudge for years against people who have treated them badly. This ability – which may also exist in other wild animals – highlights how carefully some animals monitor the humans with whom they share living space.

Field biologists have observed that crows seem to recognise them, and a few researchers have even gone to the extreme of wearing masks when capturing birds to band (or “ring”) them, so that they could later observe the birds without upsetting them. However, it was unclear whether the birds distinguish people by their faces or by other distinctive features of dress, gait or behaviour. To find out, John Marzluff at the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues donned a rubber caveman mask and then captured and banded wild American crows.

Whenever a person wearing the same mask approached those crows later, the birds scolded them loudly. In contrast, they ignored the same person wearing a mask of former US Vice-President Dick Cheney, which had never been worn during banding. “Most of the time you walk right up to them and they don’t care at all,” says Marzluff.

2 thoughts on “American crows recognize people’s faces

  1. Pingback: Snowy owl in Canada | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: How crows win against bigger ravens | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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