Crows are mighty smart birds: They share with humans (MOST humans, anyway) the ability to recognize faces and associate them with negative, as well as positive, feelings.
Researchers documented this by having some people feed captured crows while wearing negative masks, while others fed them wearing positive masks. In PhysOrg.com, Sandra Hines environmental scientist John Marzluff as saying, "The regions of the crow brain that work together are not unlike those that work together in mammals, including humans. These regions were suspected to work in birds but not documented until now.
"By feeding and caring for birds in captivity their brain activity suggests that the birds view their keepers as valued social partners, rather than animals that must be feared. So to keep captive animals happy we need to treat them well and do so consistently."
His study might also offer a way to reduce conflict between birds and endangered species on which they might be feeding. In the Mojave Desert, for instance, ravens prey on endangered desert tortoises. And on the West and East coasts, crows and ravens prey on threatened snowy plovers (but) Hines quotes Marzluff as saying, "Our studies suggest that we can train these birds to do the right thing."
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