A new study described in The New York Times found that ravens can recognize the voices of old friends after years of separation. Current Biology reports that a group of birds lived together for three years, then were separated for three years. Researchers recorded the calls of some of the separated birds towards the end of the three-year separation (during which time their calls may have changed) and played them to the other birds, who responded with friendly calls.
The birds’ friendly response demonstrated that they recognized their friends, because they responded differently to birds they didn’t like. Lead researcher Markus Böckle of the University of Vienna explained that when ravens answer calls from others they don’t like, they use deeper voices. The birds could also distinguish birds they did not know.
Ravens have friends and foes and remember them for years. Yet one more characteristic that does not distinguish humans from animals.
Photo credit: Sergey Yeliseev