We will speak, nevermore: People marvel at crows' ability to 'hold and share grudges'

April Roach
·2-min read
A file photo of a captive Caledonian crow: PA
A file photo of a captive Caledonian crow: PA

People have been marvelling at crows' abilities to "hold grudges" like humans and share their bad feelings towards other crows with "friends and family".

The popular British trivia quiz show QI shared a fact about crows on its Twitter page on Sunday that shocked many social media users.

"Crows not only hold grudges, they tell their friends and family about them," said the quiz show on Twitter.

The ability of crows to hold grudges has previously been explored by scientists, but for many the fact was a new discovery.

People took to social media to share a newfound love for the black birds.

One Twitter user said: "This is my favourite bird now."

Another shared: "One of my former roommates had a crow enemy, and she had no idea what she did. It likes to wait outside our house for her, though."

One person joked on Twitter: "This is the type of news that can be game changing."

A 2011 study revealed crows can remember the human faces who capture them.

According to another a study published in the journal Animal Behaviour, ravens which include crows, jays and magpies, have the ability to 'hold grudges' for up to two years.

Researchers from the Lund University in Sweden and the University of Vienna hand-raised a group of ravens and studied their interactions when collecting food from 'fair' and 'unfair' trainers.

Unfair trainers would first offer the crow a piece of food and when it returned for a second piece they would eat the crust of bread instead of offering it to the raven as expected.

The scientists discovered that when offered with a choice, the majority of the ravens would choose the fair trainers over the unfair trainers.

Co-author of the study Jorg Massen, said he believes ravens are capable of remembering fair and unfair trainers for as long as two years.

Speaking about how ravens operate in the wild, he said: "If one individual supports another, there's a correlation between support given and received on a long-term basis.

"In other words, ravens build up social capital that is reciprocated over time. Favours in the form of preening or aid during a fight are selectively given to ravens in good standing with one another."

The National Geographic has also written about the intelligence capabilities of crows by sharing how they can remember individual human faces and hold funerals for their fellow animals.

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