In 2010, researchers in Seattle found that formerly captured crows were able to remember the face of their abductor even years after the incident.
Researchers in Seattle revealed that captured crows remember the face of their abductor. Even though years had passed since they saw the threatening face, the crows in the experiment would taunt their captor and dive-bomb him, suggesting the birds held tightly to a negative association.
"The regions of the crow brain that work together are not unlike those that work together in mammals, including humans," lead researcher John Marzluff, of the University of Washington, said in a statement from the school. "These regions were suspected to work in birds but not documented until now."
In the study, 12 male adult crows were captured by researchers who were all wearing one type of mask, referred to in the study as the threatening face. Then during four weeks of captivity, the birds were fed by people wearing a different mask. Though both disguises had neutral expressions, this mask was referred to ask the caring face.
To see what was going on in the birds' brains when they saw both faces, the researchers injected a glucose fluid into the bodies of fully alert crows. The crows were then put in the presence of someone wearing either the threatening or caring mask for about 15 minutes before the birds were sedated and given a brain scan.
The fluid revealed which parts of their brains were most active around a certain mask-wearer. Marzluff said it appears the smart birds have a region of their brain that is analogous to the amygdala of mammals.