You’ve Heard of a Murder of Crows. How About a Crow Funeral? | Deep Look

You’ve Heard of a Murder of Crows. How About a Crow Funeral? | Deep Look

Big news! You can now support Deep Look on Patreon. More after the show. A verdant park, an idyllic day. But something has gone terribly wrong. A passerby discovers it first — and lets
out a piercing call. Within seconds, everyone in earshot rushes
to the scene. It’s mayhem… or so it seems. Crows are intelligent, and super chatty They watch out for one another within tight-knit
groups. As adults it’s pretty rare for crows to
be killed. So when one dies the others notice. Are they just scared? Or is something deeper going on. Kaeli Swift, a Ph.D. candidate at the University
of Washington, set up an experiment to find out. She visits a park in Seattle for a few days,
leaving piles of peanuts for the crows. Then one day… Swift shows up looking very different. Wearing a mask and a wig, she carries a dead
taxidermied crow The first one that sees her sounds the alarm. The flock erupts in protest. The crows seem to wail and scold her and the
dead bird. Swift calls these crow funerals, though they’re
not the solemn memorials we put on for our dead. She thinks these noisy gatherings are opportunities
for crows to learn about the dangers that surround them, within the safety of the group. When an unmasked Swift returns to the park
the next week with more tasty peanuts, the crows are quiet and wary. They seem to have learned there’s something
hazardous about this place. Still, they eat the peanuts. But they take longer to approach and seem
to be much more suspicious. And when Swift returns wearing the mask? They lose it. Even without the dead crow, they still see
her as a threat. Compare that to these pigeons. They barely seem to register her holding their
deceased comrade. That’s how most creatures react. Just a few, like dolphins, elephants and crows
react strongly to seeing one of their own who’s died. Even weeks later the crows cause a ruckus
when they see the mask. Some never even saw her with the dead crow
but they still learned to associate her with danger. It’s called social learning — gaining new
information by observing and imitating others. We’re always looking to learn from one another
too… to avoid the mistakes that lead others to meet their untimely end. Hey there. We love making Deep Look, and if you love
it too, guess what – Deep Look is on Patreon! Patreon lets you support us each month, so
we can do more and better stuff for you. Like chats with producers and scientists,
and extra episodes in faraway lands. You’ll be invited to our members-only community,
where you can give us your story ideas and get Deep Look schwag. So click on the Patreon link here or in the
description to sign up. See you there!

100 Replies to “You’ve Heard of a Murder of Crows. How About a Crow Funeral? | Deep Look”

  1. Hi folks! I'm the scientist behind this research. I'm seeing a few questions come up repeatedly so let me take a minute to address them. 1) Yikes, why are the masks so creepy?! These masks were made in service to the original facial recognition study that took place a little over a decade ago at the UW. You can learn more about that study in the PBS 'Murder of Crows' special which is free to stream. When asking that original question of "do crows recognize threatening people" it was important that the masks were expressionless, since a happy or angry looking face might influence how they would respond (we now know it actually doesn't). It's very hard to find human-like expressionless masks though, so we had costume makers come in and take molds of volunteers' faces. What you're left with is something that basically looks like you cut someone's face off and are wearing it Silence of the Lambs style, which is kinda the point, but admittedly also very creepy to people! 2) Why did you need to wear masks at all? During the actual study I wasn't a mask wearer, I just recorded data. It was a volunteer that would don the mask and hold the crow, or return a week later wearing the familiar mask. But volunteers are fickle and I couldn't be guaranteed that the person available to help during the "funeral" presentation could come back the following week. By having people wear the masks though, it didn't matter who was helping me, I could keep the face the same. And based on the previous facial recognition study I knew that's really all that mattered. 3) How did we know they weren't just freaking out because the masks are creepy? I ran controls to verify this. Linda is one of ten different masks so it was easy to verify that wasn't what was going on. If you want to learn all the details of this study you can read it for free on my blog (corvidreseach . blog) You can also find me on twitter @ corvidresearch where I am always available to answer all your corvid questions. I also play a fun ID game on Wednesdays called #CrowOrNo. I'm glad so many of you enjoyed the video and I hope you look out for my new studies!

  2. Honestly, just by seeing the mask I would've made the same sound regardless of what she's holding, that thing is scary.

  3. To conclude, whenever I hear a bunch of crows crowing then that means I need to be careful of my surroundings! That's a good way for humans to also be more careful!!

  4. I was ar school and i found a dead crow without a face and some students beated their face with a bat ?

  5. There is ritual in Hinduism where they arrange food for the crows and crow should eat it. This is done for the departed person. If the crow eat it then they think that the person has been freed and his soul is no longer wandering and person is rest in peace. So Indians were knowing about this crow behaviour since thousands of years

  6. [Quran 5:31] Then Allah sent a crow digging the ground, to show him how to cover his brother's corpse. He said, "Woe to me! I was unable to be like this crow, and bury my brother's corpse." So he became full of regrets.

  7. Imagine being in that park not knowing there was an experiment going on and you see the masked scientist lurking around like a serial killer.

  8. A man in India was attacked by crow's for 3 years.

    He was trying to help an injured crow but it sadly died in his hands. Ever since then the crow's started to attack him for 3 years. The man said that he wished he could talk to the birds and explain to them what happened.
    Poor guy was just trying to help

  9. Crows are very intelligent. I witnessed one in a Walmart parking lot stalk a man with a bag of McDonald’s food in his cart and as he was putting the groceries away in his trunk the crow tried to unfurl the bag of McDonald’s to get to the French fries inside. That was a smart bird. I tattled on it and the man shooed it away from his almost open bag of food.

  10. Yes, they do funerals. I saw one myself while in my car at work. A dead crow was behind the car parking fence, lying on the ground. Suddenly, a crow shows up and starts yelling out loud for a few minutes. Later, two other crows show up and all three surround the dead crow's corpse. They yell. The first crow who saw the corpse then approaches the corpse and plunks it with its peak. Was it eating the flesh? No clue. The sight was so profound, it made me even recollect how similar we are with animals in terms of compassion and sorrow, and how deeply disturbing is the connection between the scene of a dead crow being plunked by other crows with the scene of humans who feast on the spoils of those of us who depart.

  11. If the Qur'an was composed by humans, it would have talked about the crow as a creature that does not have any intelligence. But the Qur'an spoke of the crow in a scientific way consistent with modern scientific research on the crow.

    He talked about the crow as a teacher of man, thinks, understands and deals with reality wisely .. We all remember the story of Cain and Abel when Cain killed his brother and confused what he is doing and carried him on his shoulders and became regretful, God sent two ravens kill until he killed each other, and immediately dug a hole The crow buried his brother and thus Cain taught what to do with his brother and how to bury him !!
    From the Quran Surat Almaedah 31.
    فَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ غُرَابًا يَبْحَثُ فِي الْأَرْضِ لِيُرِيَهُ كَيْفَ يُوَارِي سَوْأَةَ أَخِيهِ قَالَ يَا وَيْلَتَا أَعَجَزْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِثْلَ هَذَا الْغُرَابِ فَأُوَارِيَ سَوْأَةَ أَخِي فَأَصْبَحَ مِنَ النَّادِمِينَ.

  12. As per our scriptures , ravens are associated with the dead souls. Ravens are highly intelligent and clever mimics. Ravens bear mysticism, and have a long history of myth enshrouding them.

    Ravens have mystical powers, giving out varied sounds, and can assist us in shifting our consciousness into various dimensional realms.

    Ancient seers refer to them as the ‘keeper of secrets’. They are linked to the void, where universal secrets are kept. Raven knows the mystery of life, they are strongly linked with death and rebirth and our INTENTION.
    That's why we feed them with Rice balls infused with sesame seeds on pitru paksh

  13. She has to wear the mask firstly and present the peanut before bringing the dead crow to see the react , maybe the mask is provocative for them…

  14. Those pigeons will eat their own dead if there's nothing else to eat. Try visiting the rooftops of any buildings at a power plant. It's a bird graveyard with random pieces of pigeons and feces everywhere.

  15. Quran said human learned from crow how to bury a dead body..that’s why you don’t see a dead crow .. they bury them like we do. And they make sure nobody is watching.
    Quran: Surat Table Aya 31.
    Thank you for the research.

  16. crow 1 : is that me? am i dead?
    crow 2: is that my dead body? are we all dead?
    crow 3: i see you. him. that guy there. this guy here but i cant see myself… oh crowley im dead

  17. I am from Kerala- India and I have a question for the scientists works behind this. Why the crows in an entire area rests in a single place..? Here in our hometown the whole crows rests area near a beach. At evening you can see all of them coming from different directions to rest there. You can see them all of them resting in coconut trees, electric lines and other trees.

  18. Farmers in Wales often shoot magpies and leave the dead in view as it makes other magpies wary and helps keep them from attacking newborn lambs

  19. Wouldn't you run away if you saw a "creature/animal", That has a human body in it's hands and just dropped it by and walked away?
    Wouldn't you be scared if that "creature/animal" came back?

  20. Humans are already scared by people wearing masks, walking towards you.
    I don't think a lot of people saw someone with a mask on, holding a dead human body.

  21. In Philippines, our superstition beliefs that Crows and Black Cats will bring bad luck. When you see one it's either you'll be in a bad situations or death. They're always associated with death

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