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 bought 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 brink of go onstage.”
Backensto, who studied how oil and fuel growth actions affected ravens, posed as “a grumpy outdated oilfield employee” earlier than the half dozen ravens she had beforehand captured in Prudhoe Bay.
“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 metallic posts in her neighborhood.
She often wanted to recapture birds that had misplaced their transmitters with a view 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 otherwise.
“It truly fooled just a few birds that knew me fairly effectively,” 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 ebook, “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 12 months of dwelling in captivity, they turned comfy 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, however it didn’t idiot them for lengthy,” Heinrich wrote. “After my thirteenth method 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 workforce 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 internet 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 12 months and half in the past, and to this present day crows are nonetheless responding to this caveman face,” Marzluff stated.
The crows discovered to affiliate the caveman with one thing dangerous in 3 ways, Marzluff stated. The seven birds captured by the caveman remembered it, however different crows discovered 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 hen that interacts with people, it’s maybe a bonus to recollect the dangerous eggs, Marzluff stated. He stated crows and ravens are distinctive on this approach.
“I don’t know of different birds who do that within the wild,” he stated.
[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]