Ravens and crows are hard to fool. These scientists and researchers have tried.

Ravens and crows are hard to fool. These scientists and researchers have tried.

Biologist Stacia Backensto has fooled a raven. When making an attempt to recapture birds on Alaska’s North Slope throughout her graduate scholar days on the College of Alaska Fairbanks, she wore a mustache and beard. She additionally strapped pillows to her waist.

“By the point I received round to the beard and the duct-taping of the pillows, I discovered myself with a 30-minute costume prep time earlier than trapping,” Backensto stated. “It was sort of like on the point of go onstage.”

Backensto, who studied how oil and fuel improvement actions affected ravens, posed as “a grumpy previous oilfield employee” earlier than the half dozen ravens she had beforehand captured in Prudhoe Bay.

Biologist Stacia Backensto disguised to idiot ravens on Alaska’s North Slope. (Picture by Jim Zelenak)

“After I didn’t have my disguise on they had been a bit obnoxious,” she stated. The ravens generally dove at her or pecked exhausting on steel posts in her neighborhood.

She sometimes wanted to recapture birds that had misplaced their transmitters so as to comply with them across the oilfields at Prudhoe Bay. She didn’t assume she may do it with out her elaborate disguise, which she accentuated by making an attempt to stroll in another way.

“It really fooled a couple of birds that knew me fairly properly,” she stated. “In 50% of the instances, birds that knew me appeared to be confused.”

The dean of raven research within the U.S., Bernd Heinrich, a professor emeritus on the College of Vermont, additionally dressed as much as idiot ravens. He described it in his e-book, “Thoughts of the Raven; Investigations and Adventures with Wolf Birds.”

Heinrich as soon as saved ravens he had captured in a big pen. After a yr of dwelling in captivity, they turned snug with him coming in to feed them, although the birds had been skittish round everybody else. Out of curiosity, he noticed how ravens reacted when he wore a kimono.

“After I wore it, they flew up (in alarm) at 15 yards, but it surely didn’t idiot them for lengthy,” Heinrich wrote. “After my 13th strategy within the kimono, they once more allowed me to get subsequent to them.”

John Marzluff, creator of “Within the Firm of Crows and Ravens,” did a examine on the College of Washington campus the place his analysis group captured and tagged the raven’s shut relative, the American crow.

First, Marzluff’s crew wore latex masks of Dick Cheney and a caveman across the Seattle campus and seen that crows had no response to them. Then, the researchers captured seven crows with web weapons whereas carrying the caveman masks. From then on, crows harassed folks carrying the caveman masks, swooping and scolding that individual. Dick Cheney walked round unmolested.

“We did this experiment over a yr and half in the past, and to at the present time crows are nonetheless responding to this caveman face,” Marzluff stated.

A raven in Alaska. (Picture by Ned Rozell)

The crows realized to affiliate the caveman with one thing unhealthy in 3 ways, Marzluff stated. The seven birds captured by the caveman remembered it, however different crows realized from both watching the caveman seize the birds or from observing caveman-savvy crows scolding the individual within the masks when she or he appeared in campus crowds.

For a social fowl that interacts with people, it’s maybe a bonus to recollect the unhealthy eggs, Marzluff stated. He stated crows and ravens are distinctive on this means.

“I don’t know of different birds who do that within the wild,” he stated.

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