July 27, 2009

"Wild crows can recognize individual people. They can pick a person out of a crowd, follow them, and remember them — apparently for years."

Are you as smart as a crow? Take the test.


traditionalguy said...

If crows are so smart, why do they fall for Scarecrows in gardens?

The Crack Emcee said...

This sounds a lot like marriage to me.

The Macho Response

AllenS said...

I've had pet crows before. They will sit on your roof and when you come out of the house, they will swoop down about a foot from your head and land, scaring the hell out of you.

MadisonMan said...

Crows make a good pie. But you need 4 and twenty of them.

dbp said...

Is anybody else seeing the potential military application this might have?

Bissage said...

Crows can remember people for years?

This comes as welcome news as it was only last week I removed a nasty thorn stuck in a crow’s foot.

Paddy O said...

Once you start watching crows it becomes a hilarious hobby.

Watching ravens, their larger and smarter cousins, is even more fun.

They're all clearly intelligent and more aware than most other birds, without having the desperate seriousness of the carnivores. This is probably because of their pretty interesting social dynamics--where they have to relate to each other in regards to food and such.

Humans become another tool in this quest. So, they get to know people and use us, not really being impressed with us because we can't fly. They also, I've noticed, use other animals.

Ravens and crows are a great way of spotting otherwise hidden coyotes or bobcats. I've seen them following, teasing, and otherwise interacting with people walking dogs, but not when people are walking without dogs.

The social component is also why dogs tend to be smarter--especially when they are in situations that have a lot of social interaction.

Paddy O said...

"as it was only last week I removed a nasty thorn stuck in a crow’s foot."

And, no doubt, now you will be the first in the neighborhood to learn of nearby, tasty bits of roadkill and particularly good open bags of trash. A constant crow thank-you.

traditionalguy said...

PETA is on to you guys. Crows are being cruelly used and abused by humans. All national powerlines must be made Crow safe zones where power surges and lightning strikes cannot electrocute whole crow families. Where is your empathy folks?

Fred4Pres said...

NPR's Crow Parodox--crows are not threatened by Dick Cheney.

rhhardin said...

Crows in Tokyo attack people who don't give them food, according to Radio Japan a few years ago.

MadisonMan said...

NPR is annoying me of late. This crow non-story. All the blather about Comic-Con, which is the new discovery of the trendy on the east coast, apparently, so It Must Be Covered.

I know they're trying to consider All Things, but how about talking about things that actually, you know, MATTER?

Luckily, I'm too busy to really listen.

Christy said...

My neighborhood, before West Nile, was overrun with crows for three or four years. A murder of crows once trapped my cat high in a wild cherry tree. Such screaming! They dispersed when I added my own screams. No projectiles needed.

I'd miss them but for the fact that lovelier birds had disappeared during their reign.

traditionalguy said...

What's next. Crows fitted with cameras working for National Enquirer as Crow-a-razzis?

Wince said...

Brooks Was Here.

Dear fellas,

I can't believe how fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile once when I was a kid, but now they're everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry. The parole board got me into this halfway house called "The Brewer" and a job bagging groceries at the Foodway. It's hard work and I try to keep up, but my hands hurt most of the time.

I don't think the store manager likes me very much.

Sometimes after work, I go to the park and feed the birds. I keep thinking Jake might just show up and say hello, but he never does. I hope wherever he is, he's okay and makin' new friends.

I have trouble sleepin' at night. I have bad dreams like I'm falling. I wake up scared. Sometimes it takes me a while to remember where I am. Maybe I should get me a gun, an, an rob the Foodway so they'd send me home. I could shoot the manager while I was at it, sort of like a bonus. I guess I'm too old for that sort of nonsense any more. I don't like it here. I'm tired of being afraid all the time. I've decided not to stay. I doubt they'll kick up any fuss. Not for an old crook like me.

tola'at sfarim said...

is anyone getting a chill now? Remember du maurier's "the birds" and hitchcocks adaptation?

chuck b. said...

"For tens of thousands of years, crows have needed to tell us apart. One person might feed them, another person might shoot them."

Well, people have not been shooting crows for tens of thousands of years, because there have not been guns for that long.

MayBee said...

Crows in Tokyo attack people who don't give them food, according to Radio Japan a few years ago.

It's true!
There was one stretch of sidewalk I used to walk on that actually had signs posted explaining how to protect yourself from a crow attack.

I had one friend who was afraid to take out her trash because she had a crow-stalker.

joe shropshire said...

The missus used to volunteer some of her time at a place that rescued wild birds. One of the permanent residents there was Rupert the Raven, whose favorite thing was to con you into sticking your hand into her cage. Rupert would hop up and down and rub her beak on the bars and make friendly little noises, and so you'd put on one of those big leather hawking gloves and give her a couple of fingers. She'd step back and look at them very deliberately, then at up at you, with a cold contempt in that beady little eye -- you're not really that stupid, are you? -- and then blammo. Beak like a nail gun. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I'm back, after 50 years, living in the same rural neighborhood I grew up in. Christy @ 9:22AM is right. The crows have displaced a lot of much lovelier (and more musical) birds. In the 50's, crows were a rarity and songbirds were everywhere...you couldn't sleep beyond 5:30 AM in the Spring and Summer for all their singing. Each dawn was glorious with song.

Then along came the ban on DDT. It was weakening the egg shells of both hawks and crows (crows are somewhat predatory and eat songbird eggs and baby birds). Now it's the opposite. Crows & hawks are everywhere and songbirds getting scarcer all the time.

My Dad's place is a nut tree woodlot. When I first moved back in '02, major turf battles were conducted there each Fall between big flocks of crows. Really loud, obnoxious and drawn out. Shot a few and they quickly learned to be more discrete. I don't mind them grabbing the nuts; just didn't like the 4 hour long crow yelling and screaming matches.

Unknown said...

There's a crow that lives in our neighborhood. It has a distinctive white mark on its chest, so it is easy to tell which one it is. My wife has insisted this crow knows who she is and calls for her because she has tossed it bread and other stuff to eat. I've been saying "Get real, it's a bird. No way it knows you from any other human." Now I have to apologize, apparently.

Pretty cool, though, knowing how smart these evolutionary descendants of dinosaurs are.

amba said...

If you really wanna freak out, bees can recognize individual faces.

Michael McNeil said...

Well, people have not been shooting crows for tens of thousands of years, because there have not been guns for that long.

Ever hear of bows and arrows? Thrown knives?

On another topic related to this thread, while there are a fair (-ly small) number of animals that can use tools, the number that are smart enough to make tools is barely larger than man + chimps — however, crows (at least New Caledonian crows) lie in that group.

See this terrific video of a New Caledonian crow (who heretofore had had almost no experience with flexible materials like wire) bend a piece of wire into a hook she can use to draw a cup holding food from within a tube.

Reference: Alex A. S. Weir, Jackie Chappell, and Alex Kacelnik, “Shaping of Hooks in New Caledonian Crows,” Science, Vol. 297, Issue No. 5583 (9 Aug 2002), p. 981.