Eat crows dead crows

Do crows hold funeral services for their dead?

The crow and the experiment

The volunteers, previously associated with the dead birds, returned to the feeding grounds regularly for six weeks, but without the stuffed dummy birds. Even so, throughout the experiment, the crows continued to shout warning calls whenever they saw the person, and remained particularly vigilant in this area for days after the person appeared. This suggests that the animals classify people holding dead crows as a threat.

In the second experiment, Swift found that the crows reacted much less strongly to masked people who were holding a dead, stuffed pigeon in their hand. Therefore, Swift suspects "that crows are more sensitive to dead crows than to other birds".

Overall, she demonstrated with her experiment that crows are suspicious of people even if they can only indirectly conclude that they represent a possible danger.


Other experiments have shown that American crows never forget a face, says John Marzluff, a University of Washington biologist and co-author of Swift's study.

This ability is also important for the long-lived, social birds because they interact a lot with people who can react unpredictably.

As a crow, “some people want to kill you while you are being fed by other people,” and this fact can change suddenly when a bird lover moves out of a house and a less animal-loving person moves in, explains Marzluff.