According to the study published in the journal Animal Cognition, crows can use vocal cues from their human and avian neighbors to thrive in urban environments.
“In cities crows live alongside jackdaws, magpies and seagulls, and alongside humans,” the state-funded BBC quoted lead researcher Dr. Claudia Wascher as saying.
Wascher’s team studied eight carrion crows kept in the university’s aviary by recording five of the people who feed and interact with the birds every day.
They played these recordings and those of five people who “had never met the crows” to the birds and compared their reactions.
The team found that the birds looked up and turned towards the speaker when they heard the unfamiliar human voices.
“Since humans can be a serious threat for crows,” explained Dr. Wascher, “it’s important that if they hear someone unfamiliar, they are on alert.”
The same experiment, conducted using calls from jackdaws that shared the crows’ aviaries, showed opposite results. The birds responded more to the familiar than the unfamiliar birds.
The result suggests that crows might “team up with preferred individuals outside of their own species”.
“We already know that corvids are very specific in which other crows they choose to co-operate with,” Dr. Wascher said.
Previous studies had shown that birds avoid certain individuals and choose to work with others” when they are foraging or solving tasks.
“So maybe,” Dr Washcher suggested, “there’s also something [like this] going on outside the species.”