15 September 2012

(130) Do corvids gather for funerals?

Do corvids gather for funerals?

By Ralph Maughan On September 12, 2012.

Research on scrub jays and anecdotal observations of other corvids shows a large reaction to a dead member of their species-

A study just out on “funerals” held by scrub jays has generated a lot of discussion about what these noisy gatherings of jays around fallen members of their species represent or mean.

It is not just scrub jays, but this kind of avian behavior has been noted by many among other corvids (crows, ravens, magpies, jays). Dr. Charles “Chuck” Trost at Idaho State University has spoken and written about ritualistic appearing gatherings of magpies around dead magpies. Others have noted that crows too have something that looks like a funeral.

The question raised is do these notably smart birds understand death? What are they doing when they gather around dead “comrades” (and often others of their kind)? Are the birds warning of potential danger, but if so why in such a different way than other warnings they give? Is it a mourning and/or farewell? Is this instinctual behavior or learned?

Many will discount any deep meaning to these gatherings, perhaps rightly so, but how do we know something more profound is not going on? Perhaps they deal with death as well or better than we do.



Why does it amaze people animals seem to have the same feelings as we have?

It's about time some 'alien' published a paper about our behaviour...