The American Crow is a corvid, which is a family of birds that includes crows, ravens, magpies, and jays. Corvids are the most intelligent birds studied. We have all seen videos of a crow’s ability to problem solve and make and use a tool. They also establish a social hierarchy within their family, they protect their family members, and – believe it or not – they hold and pass along grudges. How do researchers know that a crow can hold a grudge? A group of research scientists captured and tagged a number of crows in several sites near Seattle. Before capture, the scientists wore various masks that would correlate to the specific location for the captured crows. Silly right? Not so… after release, the scientists tested the crows mask (facial) recognition by putting the masks on and making an appearance before the crows. One quarter of the crows responded negatively to the scientists in the masks by cawing, squawking, and dive bombing them. And over time, more crows joined in. Even fledglings learned from the adult crows to hate on the mask-wearing scientists. This went on for years. One scientist noted that the crows had impeccable memories with facial recognition and the crows did not need to be reminded of their universal hatred for the mask-wearing scientists. Proving their grudge-harboring nature, the crows showed little interest in non mask-wearing scientists. Further testing revealed that beyond facial recognition, after a year of no exposure to the mask-wearing researchers the crows instantly recognized and ganged up on the mask-wearer once sighted. Amazing right? These birds’ brains are definitely not birdbrains.
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