Crows Can Identify You – Don’t Get On Their Bad Side

by Larry Jordan on July 27, 2009

crow, American Crow,

American Crow Eating On A Bone photo by Larry Jordan

The American Crow is a member of the Corvidae family, commonly refered to as Corvids or Crows.  This family of birds includes crows, ravens, jays, magpies, nutcrackers, rooks, jackdaws, treepies and choughs.  They are considered to be the most intellegent birds in the world.

I was listening to NPR on the way to work this morning and was astonished by a story about crows and how they can recognized individual humans.  Robert Krulwich, science correspondent for NPR, interviewed Professor Kevin McGowan from Cornell University and Professor John Marzluff from the University of Washington, both experts on crow behavior.  Here is a short video about the experiment.  I suggest you take the 7 1/2 minutes to go to this link to hear the entire interview.  It is a great listen.


You want more proof of the crows intelligence?  Watch this video showing crows using tools.


My suggestion, if you go out to band crows, wear a mask, unless you want to be haunted by crows for the rest of your life.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank July 28, 2009 at 7:48 am

Few tales illustrating the intelligence of crows surprise me, though I marvel at them all.

I read a book nearly five decades ago (might have been Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton) that told of crows who used a certain call when spotting a person nearby. They used a vastly different call if that person happened to be carrying a gun.
.-= Frank´s last blog ..Blog Spiffication (#199) =-.


Daveabirding July 28, 2009 at 2:31 pm

A coworker’s family rescued a crow with a broken wing decades ago. The bird returned to their suburban home in Minnesota summer after summer having never been caged or kept after the wing mended.
He reported that it acted quite tame around their family but would retreat to a safe “crowlike” distance when non-imprinted humans came around. Fascinating species and or family.

I guess they remember the good and the bad!
.-= Daveabirding´s last blog ..Better than Birding! =-.


Scott August 3, 2009 at 9:18 am

I completely concur. During an internship at a wildlife rehab we had a number of crows, jays, and ravens that were unable to be released back into the wild. They exhibited great problem solving skills which made them fun to observe. It was always a challenge to come up with new ideas for enrichment to keep them busy, etc.

In the realm of mimicry, a raven with a neurological disorder was nicknamed “Hello Raven” as he loved to repeat the greeting. Apparently he picked it up from volunteers/employees taking care of him.
.-= Scott´s last blog ..Owlets run for cover =-.


ramblingwoods January 19, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I think that we humans tend to vastly underestimate the intelligence of some other species… probably at our own peril.. Thanks for sending me this link…Michelle


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