• In results that can only be described as Hitchcockian, researchers in Seattle who trapped and banded crows for five years found that those birds don’t forget a face.
    • Even after going for a year without seeing the threatening human, the crows would scold the person on sight, cackling, swooping and dive-bombing in mobs of 30 or more. “
    • Most of the birds that are scolding us are not the ones we captured,” said study researcher John Marzluff, a professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington and an occasional victim of crow attacks. “
    • It’s likely that they’re learning from their parents and their peers that this dangerous person is still out there.”
    • They also hold a grudge
    • .A study published in May in the journal Animal Cognition found that crows’ close relatives, magpies, recognize researcher’s faces regardless of what the scientists wear.
    • And just this month, police in Everett, Wash., about 25 miles north of Seattle, found themselves on the wrong side of a flock (or “murder”) of crows.
    • The birds dive-bombed the officers as they walked across their station’s parking lot.
    • Umbrellas may be used as a defense tactic” against the crows, reported the Everett Herald newspaper.)
    • Marzluff and his colleagues similarly noticed that when they trapped and banded crows for research, mobs of angry birds would fly overhead, scolding them.
    • The researchers launched a five-year study to find out how much data their research subjects had been gathering on them.
    • The birds quickly learned that the masked bird-trapper was bad news and proceeded to scold the mask-wearer anytime they saw him or her.
      But over the years, the researchers found, the mobbing became more and more widespread.
    • In February, Marzluff said, he ventured out of his office in a mask he’d worn five years earlier while trapping seven birds. “
    • Bird brains It was clear the birds that had never seen the trapping were joining the angry murders.
    • The question, Marzluff said, was whether those birds were simply following the lead of a single bird that had seen the trapping, or had learned from their flockmates that this was a face to watch out for.
    • To find out, the researchers tested a “dangerous” mask and a neutral mask on fledgling crows while their parents were in the nest and also while their parents were away.
    • They found that the presence of a grudge-holding leader wasn’t necessary: If the baby birds had ever seen their parents scold the mask, they started scolding it even when mom and dad weren’t around. “
    • A lot of laboratory studies will show that [crows] can learn by observation, but not in the field,” Marzluff said. “
    • The researchers reported their results June 28 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. They are now using brain-scanning techniques on captured birds to find out what’s happening in the crows’ brains when they see a dangerous face.
  • https://www.livescience.com/23090-crows-grudges-brains.html

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