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A Murder Of Crows: Gaggles Of Grudge-Holders


This just in: Crows are BITTER.

Remember that girl in high school who made all 4 years unforgettable in the worst way possible, then you saw her at the bar 3 years later and secretly thought about throwing your drink on her and screaming in her face? The smug satisfaction you get from that is the same attitude crows have when they see you years after you taunted them on the beach with a bag of Cheetos.

A five-year study of the behavior of crows has concluded that they are into group learning, taunting and grudge-holding. They can remember a human that struck them as dangerous and share their knowledge with offspring, comrades and other crows.

According to Professor John Marzluff of the University of Washington, this is a trait that allows species to co-evolve and adapt with humans.

The researchers performing the study each wore “dangerous” looking masks, then captured and released a handful of birds in the Seattle area. Over the next 5 years, the behavior of the birds was observed, with the number of crows expressing dismay through high-pitched alarm sounds growing each year. Different masks and “neutral” faces were worn at different times, and the numbers showed the crows were precise in their determination of who had been the human taunting them.

The birds frequently see success in their alarming noise because the humans typically leave the area, leaving them in peace and away from potential threats or danger.

In conclusion, you really need to leave crows alone. Unless you’re that snotty girl from high school, then you deserve the Hitchcock (The Birds) action you just might get after taunting them. A high school nerd has nothing on the grudge held by a crow with an attitude.

In all seriousness, crows won’t take you on alone. They’ll bring in their siblings, cousins and UFC-loving uncles to gang up and show you who’s boss. It’s an interesting look at how species interact and defend themselves, perhaps some more than others.

Image CC licensed by malfet_: Crow

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