29 Jun '11, 1am

Not so bird-brained: Clever crows recognise faces

PARIS - HUMANS who dismiss birds as featherweights may revise their opinion when learning of crows which not only can identify the face of someone who is a danger but also teach others about the threat. Intrigued by the behaviour of wild American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) on their campus in Seattle, University of Washington scientists explored whether the birds would recall a face associated with a frightening ordeal. The researchers donned the rubber mask of a caveman before trapping, banding and releasing seven crows. Thereafter, researchers wore either this 'dangerous' mask or a neutral one - that of former US vice president Dick Cheney - and observed, as they walked along the college paths, how the flock of crows reacted. The 'crow magnon' mask prompted the birds into a collective response to a threat. They cawed and screeched, angrily flapped their wings and flick...

Full article: http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/TechandScience/S...

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