Do Crows Remember Faces? (And Hold Grudges + Remember Kindness?)

Last updated: 21 July 2022

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Do Crows Remember Faces? (And Hold Grudges + Remember Kindness?)

The crow, a member of the corvid family, is one of the most intelligent, cunning, and fascinating species in the animal kingdom. Their ability to use tools sets corvids apart from other birds and even most mammals.

You may already be familiar with this bird’s propensity for using tools to solve complex problems, but did you know crows also have high emotional and social intelligence?

Recent studies have proven that the crow can remember the faces of other birds and even humans. They can differentiate between those who have been kind to them and those who have caused them stress. Crows will even pass this information on to other generations.

In this article, we will take a closer look into the intelligence of crows and their ability to recognize and remember human faces. Read on to discover more about these clever corvids!

Crows have the incredible ability to remember faces of other birds and humans

Crows have the incredible ability to remember faces of other birds and humans

Can a crow recognize you?

A crow can indeed recognize you. Facial recognition has been proven through a few different studies. Some simply show how crows can interpret a person’s intent based on our mannerisms. For example, crows do not move out of the way if humans walk near them without making eye contact.

However, they will fly away if someone walks directly toward them with eyes focused on the crow. Crows have learned when people walk by minding their own business, they are typically not a threat, while people showing interest in approaching the birds could potentially be a threat.

Other studies have been done to prove the crows’ ability to recognize individual facial characteristics. One such study involved two groups of people wearing two different sets of masks. One group was sent out to trap a group of crows, while the other walked around the crows without trying to interact with them at all.

Five years later, the same groups went out into the same park. The group that had trapped crows previously got mobbed by an angry flock, while the group that did not interact with the birds was left alone.

This study proved that the birds not only recognized and reacted to the group that had previously caused them stress but had also passed this information down to their young and on to other crows living in the park.

Crows have learned to be able to tell when people are just walking by, versus threats

Crows have learned to be able to tell when people are just walking by, versus threats

How long do crows remember faces?

Based on studies such as the mask trial, it is thought that crows can remember faces for up to five years. This is, of course, if the birds are not seeing an individual or group regularly.

Five years is an exceptionally long time for a bird to be able to recall someone’s face. Especially considering the lifespan of the average wild crow is 13 years.

Do crows hold a grudge?

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the information above, crows can and do hold grudges. It is important to always be kind to other creatures, but you certainly want to be careful that you do not end up on a crow's bad side.

As seen in the mask study, crows are likely to attack or act aggressively toward anyone who has caused them great stress. They may also pass this information on to other crows that were not involved in the initial encounter.

The crow’s high intelligence and ability to recognize faces is why many people who study them will wear different masks based on their tasks. This allows the same person to trap and band crows one day (a task that generally causes the birds stress) and simply observe them in the wild the next.

Many people think its an old wives tale, but crows do hold grudges!

Many people think its an old wives tale, but crows do hold grudges!

Do crows remember kindness?

Do not fear, crows do not just hold grudges against people who have, or seemingly have, wronged them. These incredible birds also remember kindness. Crows are extremely curious and social creatures. This can often lead them to be curious about people.

If you are someone who generally enjoys watching these birds and their interesting antics, you can welcome them into your yard. Crows enjoy a varied diet of invertebrates, fruits, seeds, and grains.

They primarily feed on the ground and thus are likely to clean up goodies that have dropped from your bird feeder. Crows also forage from fruiting trees and shrubs.

Providing foods the crow enjoys as well as a safe space around your home will make these birds feel welcome. Crows may even recognize your kindness and grow more trusting of you, allowing an even greater glimpse into their cunning, intelligent minds.

At the opposite end of the scale, crows also remember acts of kindness towards them

At the opposite end of the scale, crows also remember acts of kindness towards them

Do crows tell other crows about humans?

It likely seems wild that a crow could communicate its feelings about humans to other crows, but it is true. The same studies that have proven crows can remember faces have also shown they can pass the information on to others of their kind.

If a crow has a particularly stressful experience with an individual or group of people, it will tell other crows about those humans. And, if those people are encountered at a later date, the crows are likely to make it clear that the person (or persons) presence is unwanted.

The same goes for anyone who has shown exceptional kindness to a crow. They will likely remember your face and perhaps relay this information to their social group.

Perhaps you will find yourself a friend to the crows in your neighborhood. Who wouldn’t want that title? These creatures are truly incredible and bewitching to observe.

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