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 thoughts on “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. Who said islam is wrong
    The holy koran talks about this 14 hundred years ago and yet people dont understand
    I am not even joking this crow funeral was mentioned 1400years ago so as a muslim this is very old to me

  3. [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

  4. I read this curious finding about a raven in Alaska (I think it was Alaska) that would play dead by falling onto its back with it's legs up everytime one of it's own kind neared a carcass the raven had found. Ravens were a nuisance in the area and people had been poisoning carcasses to help kill off the birds. So the birds had learned to associate a dead raven by a carcass as food to stay away from. So one clever raven took advantage of that by pretending to be dead each time so it didnt have to compete over the food.

  5. Yeah, they're smart alright! 😄

    And if you're not careful, they'll come for you later tonight 😈

  6. Seattle has been studying these majestic wonderful birds. I wish I could entice them to my backyard but no luck.

  7. They have to be communicating and recognizing at the same time. They are smart for sure and I really believe they communicate through telepathy,.

  8. Crows love eating cheese and fried food, basically anything oily and juicy and protein. They are cool birds to have as friends.

  9. My younger brother once saved a crow from a group of other crows attacking it. The crow was saved somehow and it flew away. However the group of crow got angry at my brother and started chasing my brother. Till date these crows trouble my brother especially a couple of crow from the group. They will fly over his head and used their talons to scrape his head. Whenever my brother goes out they somehow keep a track and start cawing informing others. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT BEHAVIOR???

  10. True folks, if you want to shoot a few crows . Build a good hide/blind , lay out a dead crow . Do not immediately pick up the ones that you have shoot . They will attract more crows

  11. No, I don't think humans are that smart. We don't learn from others like the crows. We see another human making a mistake, and we do the same mistake. And worst of all, we do the same mistake over and over. Jajajaja

  12. Very nice analysis. Reminds me the story of Habil and Qabil, sons of Adam. The crows taught humanity about funerals.

  13. Crows and ravens are some of the most intelligent birds out there! It was a good thing she wore the mask, because they recognize the faces of those who will help or harm them! Such gorgeous, intelligent creatures! ^^

  14. Crows when they see a lady with a creepy mask and dead relative: *CAW CAW AW!!!!!!"
    aslo people: *kids screaming, parents getting freaked out, people calling 911*.

  15. The More evolved, the easier it Is and More are the ways you can associate stimuli, therefore react in a More adaptive manner. I apologize for my possible grammatical errors btw. There are tons of experiments were pigeons can end UP reacting towards stimuli That get paired with another kind of stimulation, and adapt to new conditions. But my Guess its That it's way easier with crows.
    Social learning, while based on bandura's theory which considered conditioning a secondary factor to… Was it "vicarious learning"?… It's Still strongly based on functional análisis, other organism's behavior can be a conditioned stimuli after All. There Is also the social reinforcement members of the same community might get by behaving the same way as the others.
    Fascinating animals.

  16. Once I saw a dead crow I got a little close then all the crow started attacking me this happen for months

  17. Very cool. Very interesting. I love learning new things. I'm 47 and I try to learn something everyday. I read a lot and I never use a calculator to do math. Keeps the brain Sharp

  18. Lol cant they smell you. Does having different people wearing the same mask really make a difference if by smell they could tell you apart?

  19. Person with peanut allergy:
    *has picnic in park where peanuts fell*
    … :°🍉 :]

    *falls with face on grass while crouching*
    😂

    *gets up, walks away after packing up*
    ~One hour later~
    … :/ :{
    *throws up*
    *has puffy face*
    ~5 minutes later~
    *dies*

  20. That's so discriminatory and stereotyping and profiling you're not supposed to do that. So now all people that look like that the crows need to not like that's so racist reminds me of the cops nowadays that hate black people and try to kill them

  21. I'm pretty sure they knew that was her even when she came back with the peanuts. They looked sad really. I'm pretty sure that mask is the equivalent of putting a hat on to get a 2nd free sample.

  22. Crow Buried a dead crow, Reference in Muslim Holly book Quran revealed roughly during 610 AD to 632 AD.
    Chapter 5 verse 31
    "Then Allah sent a crow digging ˹a grave˺ in the ground ˹for a dead crow˺, in order to show him how to bury the corpse of his brother. He cried, “Alas! Have I ˹even˺ failed to be like this crow and bury the corpse of my brother?” So he became regretful."
    It's about the one son of Adam (A.S) killed another and don't know what to do with the dead body of his brother.

  23. They're like "This guy can shoot fire through her mouth.
    I saw her flying we're not even safe while flying.
    The legend says she can transform into a giant cat." like they have a culture of fearing the masked woman.

  24. My dog killed a crow once, while I was trying to revive the crow we got attacked. We hat to escape and leave the dead body there. The crows followed me and my dog home. Everytime we went to the park they started screaming and trying to attack us everytime we were there. I know they can recognize faces so I assume they knew we were a threat.

  25. I think this PHD student is loosing her mind. Who thinks of wearing a mask straight outta Saw, to a park in broad daylight while carrying a fake dead Crow, for science??
    If you were trying to scare me, CONGRATULATIONS, you have. I'm outta here

  26. Back when I was a kid a group of kids at a park took two baby crows from a tree and all the crow reacted like these crows too and some of them were flying in circles around the park. It was as if the crows were looking at them as if they did something wrong. I wasn’t even there when they took them but they make you feel guilty.

  27. Didn't quite use to like crows. But seeing this woman almost torture them for her experiment made me feel sympathetic. And turns out they have feelings. They're not so bad I guess. Hehe

  28. I remember when i was a kid n i seen one on the ground he was really hurt so i was tryna help him i notice that they all start crowing around sundly the all flew in the air in circles started getting closer towards me so i ran the fastest i could off becuase they always told me that they like poking eyes out..love them tho..

  29. YES ITS A CROW WHO SHOWS HOW TO BURRY A DEAD MAN ON THIS EARTH WHEN .ADAMS.SON MURDERED BY HIS OWN BROTHER ITS THE VERY FIRST MURDER ON THIS UNIVERSE ………

  30. Oh, my old crow, she was here for years. Passed, they did this. I swear its her son hanging about and before she passed she was grey feathered. I have some of her sheded feathers. I loved her x

  31. I once saw a dead sparrow on the street, and there were a bunch of other sparrows around him forming a circle. Don’t know what they were doing, though.

  32. Surah Al-Ma'idah [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 raven, and bury my brother's corpse." So he became full of regrets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *