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Wild American crows gather around their dead to learn about danger

Although this article is not available without a fee or subscription the abstract provides the requisite information to substantiate its posting here.  I have posted a wide range of information, studies, documentation and information on the multi-facted, complex and highly developed ability of animals to communicate, live in communities on land and in water, nuture their young and protect their elderly, teach, train and learn as a group. So this article should come as not surprise to those of us who have observed and interacted with birds our entire lives. Before I direct you to the link, a gentle reminder to read Ken Strutin’s recent article on LLRX – Animal Rights on the Road to Personhood
Wild American crows gather around their dead to learn about danger, Kaeli N. Swift, John M. Marzluff. School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle. Received 16 April 2015, Revised 15 June 2015, Accepted 28 July 2015, Available online 24 September 2015. Animal Behaviour. Volume 109, November 2015, Pages 187–197:
  • We examined whether crows learn places and predators associated with conspecific death.
    Crows took longer to approach food in areas associated with conspecific death.
    Crows scolded humans previously seen near a dead crow, a hawk and a hawk with a dead crow.
    A hawk with a dead crow elicited the strongest immediate antipredator behaviours.
    Dead pigeons did not elicit similar antipredator responses in crows or pigeons.”While a growing number of animals demonstrate avoidance of areas associated with conspecific death, the extent to which wild populations may use these experiences to learn about novel predators remains unclear. Here we demonstrate with experiments that wild American crows, Corvus brachyrhynchos, respond to dead conspecifics by mobbing, increasing the time to approach food in areas associated with these events, and learning new predators based on their proximity to dead crows and hawks. Avoidance of either dead conspecifics or areas associated with them is not shared by another urban bird, the rock pigeon, Columba livia. Crows mobbed and increased the time to approach food over the next 72 h after observing novel humans paired with a dead crow, a red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis, or a hawk with a dead crow. The sight of a dead pigeon did not elicit these responses. These findings suggest that, for crows, dead conspecifics, but not dead heterospecifics, represent a salient danger akin to the observation of a predator. On the day the stimulus was presented, the number of trials that resulted in mobbing and avoidance of the food was strongest when crows were presented a hawk with a dead crow. In addition, we demonstrate that crows use the proximity of a human to predators, to dead conspecifics and to predators with dead conspecifics as cues to learn to recognize and subsequently scold the associated human after only one training event, and that this association can last 6 weeks. Together, our results support previous findings that crows learn places associated with conspecific death, and further demonstrate that crows can learn and remember people who appear complicit in these events.”

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