NPR logo

The Crow Paradox

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106826971/111046711" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
The Crow Paradox

The Crow Paradox

The Crow Paradox

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106826971/111046711" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Here's a surprise: Wild crows can recognize individual people. They can pick a person out of a crowd, follow them, and remember them — apparently for years. But people — even people who love crows — usually can't tell them apart. So what we have for you are two experiments that tell this story.

First, how do crows tell us apart? Watch this video:

Video: The Crow Paradox

Now, our second experiment. On you.

Crows have this uncanny ability to tell one human from another. And they'll hold a grudge if you do them wrong. But can you tell one crow from another? hide caption

Interactive: Crows Can Do This, But Can You?
toggle caption

There are crow scholars who raise, study, and even live with a crow. But once that crow flies off and joins a group, these researchers say they can no longer tell their crow apart from the others.

So let's see how well you do:

If you want to hear researchers describe what it's like to alienate a crow, and then be razzed and harassed by its family and neighbors wherever they go — tennis courts, ATM machines, parking lots — listen to our radio story. We'll also tell you how unbelievably long a crow can keep a grudge.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.