Crows and Ravens are renowned for their above average intelligence and ability to flourish in human-dominated environments. Studies have shown that wild crows, ravens, or blackbirds, are capable of individual facial recognition among groups of people. The North American crow, or Corvus brachyrhynchos, can not only remember unique facial characteristics about us humans, but they can also hold a pretty mean grudge if they don’t like you.
John M. Marzluff, a wildlife biologist at the University of Washington, has studied crows and ravens for over 20 years. He has always been curious as to whether the birds could identify individual facial features. To test this theory separately from that of clothing, mannerisms and other individual human characteristics, Marzluff and two students wore rubber masks while capturing and banding seven crows then releasing them. While wearing one of the masks as he walked through campus, Dr. Marzluff said, he was scorned by 47 of the 53 crows he encountered, many more than had been directly involved with, or witnessed the initial trapping. Evidence concluded that a group of crows or ‘murder’, is capable of teaching each other in order to conserve their numbers and ensure survival.
Other studies in crow intelligence that give obvious credit to these brilliant birds, is Joshua Klein’s TED conference, ‘A Thought Experiment On The Intelligence Of Crows’. His study was a question on whether synanthropic species (those that have adapted to living near or in human habitats) could be trained to behave usefully through interaction with new systems as opposed to behaving as parasites in our human environment. The demonstration of this was a peanut dispensing device, which involved a series of steps designed to teach the crows to drop coins into a slot in exchange for a peanut.
What can we ascertain from all of this? Perhaps the blackbirds outside of your window know more about you than you think.