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Crow death creepy

Crow Funerals: Researchers Find That Crows Appear to Understand Death

We’ve previously discussed the impressive intelligence of crows here on the Grail, from research showing that crows can solve complex sequential puzzles, to video of a crow stealing a credit card to purchase a train ticket from a vending machine.

Now, in what may be the creepiest-looking science experiment ever, researchers have discovered that crows know what death is – and it appears that they fear it, gathering in groups around a dead crow and calling loudly.

Donning scary latex masks, the researchers brought out a dead, taxidermied crow, to find out why crows gather around their dead  (the reason for the masks is because crows never forget a face, and the scientists involved weren’t keen on getting harassed by angry corvids).

For more on the research, check out this short film:

The evidence keeps stacking up for the remarkable intelligence of this much misunderstood and maligned bird.

Note: for those who might have questions about the experiments, the lead researcher posted a bunch of answers to the most frequently asked questions in the comments thread beneath the YouTube video:

I’m seeing a few questions come up repeatedly so let me take a minute to address them.

1) Yikes, why are the masks so creepy?! These masks were made in service to the original facial recognition study that took place a little over a decade ago at the UW. You can learn more about that study in the PBS ‘Murder of Crows’ special which is free to stream. When asking that original question of “do crows recognize threatening people” it was important that the masks were expressionless, since a happy or angry looking face might influence how they would respond (we now know it actually doesn’t). It’s very hard to find human-like expressionless masks though, so we had costume makers come in and take molds of volunteers’ faces. What you’re left with is something that basically looks like you cut someone’s face off and are wearing it Silence of the Lambs style, which is kinda the point, but admittedly also very creepy to people!

2) Why did you need to wear masks at all? During the actual study I wasn’t a mask wearer, I just recorded data. It was a volunteer that would don the mask and hold the crow, or return a week later wearing the familiar mask. But volunteers are fickle and I couldn’t be guaranteed that the person available to help during the “funeral” presentation could come back the following week. By having people wear the masks though, it didn’t matter who was helping me, I could keep the face the same. And based on the previous facial recognition study I knew that’s really all that mattered.

3) How did we know they weren’t just freaking out because the masks are creepy? I ran controls to verify this. Linda is one of ten different masks so it was easy to verify that wasn’t what was going on. If you want to learn all the details of this study you can read it for free on my blog. You can also find me on twitter @corvidresearch where I am always available to answer all your corvid questions.

Also worth reading:

  1. ravens
    I adore ravens. The ravens at my beach recognize me and when I look for shells sometimes they join me. Once they were all sitting in a bayberry tree (ignoring me) when a small redwing attacked the group defending its nest. The ravens all sounded an alarm call and one flew over me calling out to me, so I picked up my pace. He seemed to feel I was in danger and would not leave me until I too moved away from the attacking redwing. On another beach I used to go to the ravens (different clan) are very quiet and seem to recognize it’s a private beach that I’m not supposed to be on. Whenever a police car passed by the beach, they would call out and warn me so I could duck down. I think ravens have a religion. The belief in an afterlife isn’t how a religion starts, it’s a fear/respect for death. Why fear death if you don’t fear what comes after it too?

    1. Avian Tribes
      Great tales, thanks!.

      I have been saying hello to the local crows for quite awhile. We have a feeding station for all of the Avian Tribes in our back yard, and spend much time observing their behaviour.

      Quite amazing really. I like watching in late spring, early summer when the young have begun to fledge, you can see the family dynamics at work.

      1. “Your crow is waiting”
        http://aliensrevealed.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-crows.html

        “I had a near death experience and when I got out of hospital there was a crow on the light in parking lot making sounds. When I got home there was one in the tree in front yard. I see one at work all the time as well when shopping. Now one roosts on my car mirror leaving behind lots of poo. It also waits on the rail on front of house for me? I told my spouse and was not believed until later that day while coming out of a store it was waiting in parking lot. Now he see’s it and says your bird is waiting.”

        *******************************

        “I have been following by crows from last 5 years. The reason is that i have sex with my sister doughter it was a biggest mistake of my life.from that night i have been followed by crows. Anyone can tell me how can i get rid of them.”

        **********************************************

        “I’ve been followed by crows for the past days. Well it’s just a single crow and every time I stop it circles above me or goes and sits somewhere close to me.
        I think I might just be a tad paranoid but who knows. Maybe there’s a meaning to it if you’re a witch or something. (No offense to any witches of course)”

        ******************************

        .“I met a girl who had introduced me to the ouija board , We had played once a week for three weeks and it was all rather fascinating to me. I was so intrigued by it that i decided to buy one of my own. When i first got my board there were multiple times that i tried to get it to work but with much luck my sister and i made it happen. Well long story short there has been crows outside my house and they were never there before. Yesterday i walked over to a cafe and the crows were following and crying out , I can tell you it was a very eerie feeling that i cant stop getting paranoid about and now im afraid to even set foot outside my home. Does anyone know what this means?”

        **************************************

        “Im wonderring what the spiritual significance behind crows is….and I have a very good reason to ask. I am christian, and lived with a few others from different spiritual backgrounds & beliefs, and when I lived with them, all these crows appeared in my life. They would sit outside in the back yard constantly making that noise…all day! then then when ever anything was going bad in my life, they would show up again, even after I moved, as if they were following me, or watching me. I would wake up to them outside my bedroom window, in the tree, making that dang noise. I began college, and they happend to be the mascot, they just kept re-apearring when bad things were going on,,, durring this time also my boyfriend had died in an accident, and the stupid crows showed up again,,,,,and it wasnt till later that I realized my boyfriends innitials were the same as the stupid crows sound…………KAH They are gone now…………….Thank God, But I want to know why that happened! And please, if you don’t know…..don’t answer. Im only interested in the answer.”

        1. “…for your soul”
          I don’t think crows are signs of evil, but they do in legend often have a connection to the Spirit World and are sometimes ushers between this and the next. Perhaps in stories 1 and 4 it’s because of an imbalance between that person and the “other side” (actually the Ouija board one sounds similar to a Yahoo answers question that had a similar experience with a white wolf). The last one I could dismiss as crows just claiming territory and then moving on. Crows, as in ravens, live in large flocks that are more like wolf packs in the sense they have a dominant pair and their relatives always around them. The third story could also be the same thing, territory.

          As for the guy who fucked his sister…….you fucked your sister dude!

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