Crows never forget a face

John M. Marzluff, a wildlife biologist tested crows’ ability to distinguish between faces.

According to a new study published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B, crows have been found remember the faces of particular human beings even five years later. This is especially true when a person has threatened the crow in the past. Crows often react by scolding and bringing in others to mob the perceived miscreant.

A person that has ever threatened a crow may become famous throughout entire crow communities since that particular crow communicates the threat to the other mob members. Given that crows have impressive memories, people who ruffle the feathers of these birds could experience years of retribution. Bothered crows make calls to attract other nearby crows to join in the mob.

Marzluff is a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Forest Resources. For the study, wild crows were exposed to a novel ‘dangerous face’ created by wearing a unique mask as they trapped, banded and released seven to 15 birds at five study sites near Seattle.

Here is the link to the video that explains the study:

The released birds immediately scolded the mask wearer. Hearing the racket, other crows joined, forming an angry mob.

The researchers then put on other masks and travelled to different areas. Even crows that were never captured recognized the persons and attacked and mobbed them. As such, a face gets locked into a crow’s memory. The study shows that their memory lasts for at least five years.

Even prior studies have shown that crows are particularly intelligent. Some crows make and use tools, forecast future events, understand what other animals know.

The article shows how a human being should avoid threatening and bothering even a crow. Anne Clark, an associate professor in the department of Biological Sciences at Binghamton University, told Discovery News that this new study “suggests importantly how much long-term studies of individuals have to contribute to our understanding of adaptive social learning.”


Nijhuis, M. (2008, August 25). Friend or Foe? Crows Never Forget a Face, It Seems. Retrieved October 28, 2011, from The New York Times:

Viegas, J. (2011, June 28). ANGRY BIRDS: CROWS NEVER FORGET YOUR FACE. Retrieved October 14, 2011, from Discovery News website:

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4 Responses to Crows never forget a face

  1. Kevin 3297675 says:

    You write a good story but I have to say the most useful information I found at very last sentence. That remands that it is unadvisable to threaten a crow because it can remember my face at least five years.
    Two questions I want to ask are all crows can remember human face and how long does crow remember human face, at least five years or never forget. Because you didn’t analyze too much the original article, so I don’t know what is the correct meaning you want to express.

    Kevin 3297675

  2. Sudy says:

    Very interesting topic~~
    My friend was threated by crows a few days before. She told me crows can remember people’s face. It seems like a truth.

  3. 3360583 Lois says:

    simply and flexible

  4. marystori says:

    I enjoyed the article and found very interesting the fact that crows never forget a face. I like the picture at the beggining of the critic which made me interested in knowing what the article was about.Mariana Stori- z3388978

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