Crows harbor a grudge against those who treat them badly and also share it with other birds, a study reveals

For many years researchers considered birds to have little intelligence, because their brains were profoundly different from those of humans, starting from their considerably small size. But a deeper knowledge of the world of birds has brought to light very interesting facts that have led to a reevaluation of the life of birds.

Among the birds endowed with greater intelligence are crows and crows , and not only because they are able to create, use and take care of tools, but also because they seem to be able to feel, harbor and share grudges against people. 

via Live Science

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In a study published in the journal  The Royal Society Publishing, an interesting behavior was examined: it seems that American crows are capable of remembering for a long time the face of those who treat them badly and of rallying other birds against the enemy.

In the experiment, two researchers wore two masks, one with neutral features (it was the face of former US vice president Dick Cheney) and one depicting the face of a caveman.

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The person wearing the caveman mask, every time he reached a place frequented by crows, captured some of them, tied their legs and then set them free again – a treatment that the crows certainly must not have found amusing. As soon as the crows returned to the wild, they began to make noises in particular towards the caveman, which the researchers identified as “reprimanding” noises.

The confusion caused by the conflict between the crows and the caveman attracted other birds who eventually joined the crows in scolding and attacking the unfortunate person , even if they had never met that person before. Groups of birds from 2 to 15 individuals attacked us, diving from the sky to within a few meters of us ,” reported the researcher wearing the caveman mask.

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It didn’t end here. When the researchers visited distant places populated by crows, the birds attacked the caveman before he could even bother the crows with his behavior. Word had spread, and the crows knew what they had to do to chase away that grotesque-looking face. And the scene of the attack by the crows was repeated identically even after 5 years.

According to researchers, crows can live from 15 to 40, although most specimens do not reach these ages. In any case, adults who survive for a long time store in their memory the events that they consider most important for their survival, such as the caveman’s face. 

In short, there is a lot to expect from those big black crows that populate our cities!

Source: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2011.0957

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