Can Crows Pass The Mirror Test?

Crows have sharp minds and long-term memory, which they use to locate food and build nests in wild and urban areas. Scientists perform mirror tests on different birds and animals to observe their behavior of self-awareness and recognition.

Can Crows Pass The Mirror Test? Crows cannot pass the mirror test because they do not recognize their image or use their cognitive skills for other purposes, or the failure in the self-recognition test can be due to the lack of experimental techniques. Indian house crow is the only specie that has passed this test and attempted to remove the marks on their body after watching their image.

An American scientist first performed the self-awareness test on mammals and observed their behavior when they see themselves in the mirror. The test is also known as the Mirror self-recognition (MSR) or mark test. Self-awareness is essential for animals and birds to survive in changing environments and protect themselves from predators.

Why crows cannot pass the mirror test?

Crows and some other species in the Corvidae bird family cannot pass this test due to the following reasons.

Do not recognize their image

These birds cannot recognize their image if you place a mirror in front of them or perform mark trials. Some experiments reveal they think of their reflection as the predator and attack it.

They do not have self-awareness and show interesting reactions to the reflection and images in front of them. They cannot interpret the reflection and take it as another specie or individual.

They sometimes behave aggressively because they confuse the image with a predator from the same species, and you can observe their interesting reactions during the trial.

Crows react and work according to the visual cues and things they observe visually, but their visual system does not understand the mirror reflections as other animals; therefore, they cannot pass this test.

Use cognitive abilities for other purposes

Crows have extraordinary cognitive abilities, such as brain-based skills, which they use to solve many problems related to food or nesting.

Their cognitive properties are beneficial for problem-solving techniques, food searching, and nest building. However, they cannot use these brain-based skills to recognize themselves and pass the self-recognition test.

They can learn and use tools, remember human faces, and interact with humans and other animals.

They can understand the mirror properties, as it reflects the object image, but they cannot recognize their reflection or image.

Their social interactions do not involve self-awareness activities, which also causes them to fail the mark or self-awareness test.

Lack of experimental techniques

Mirror test was designed and performed for the first time in mammals, which also caused the failure of this behavior technique in crows and some other birds.

It is possible that the technique used to understand the self-recognition behavior of these birds is not suitable, and they can react to some other testing method that is not yet developed or tried.

Different animals and birds show varying behavior when exposed to any activity they do not perform and see often.

Their reaction can be different from other animals and birds, which is the reason they cannot pass this test the other animals can successfully pass.

How do scientists perform the mirror test with crows?

American scientist Gordon Gallup was the first person to work on this self-recognition technique and observe the mammal’s reaction when they are placed in front of the mirror.

Many scientists perform this trial on different birds and animals by allowing them to get familiar with the mirror and putting color marks on their bodies visible in the reflection.

The bird or animal has self-awareness or self-recognition ability if they touch the color marks on their bodies after watching themselves as they try to remove these color marks from their bodies.

The birds or animals are considered to fail this trail if they touch the mirror instead of the marks on their bodies after observing something unusual in their appearance.

In a recent experiment, scientists performed the mark test with crows by placing color marks under their beak area, which can also be visible in it. The crows were exposed to the mirror for 10-12 minutes daily for approximately ten days.

Initially, the crow went behind the mirror, and they behaved aggressively in the first ten trials because they could not recognize themselves.

Does failure in the mirror test affect the intelligence of crows?

Failure in the mirror test does not have any link with their intelligence, as crows are one of the most intelligent and sharp birds from the Corvidae bird family.

They have exceptional IQs in the bird kingdom and can solve complex problems using different tools. They are more intelligent than dogs and cats and use various techniques to get food.

They use their intelligence for food searching and building nests. They can compete with many birds for food sources and attack the predators if they try to snatch their food or enter their territory.

Their intelligence and smartness have nothing to do with their failure or passing of self-recognition tests, as they use their cognitive and physical abilities to do other beneficial tasks.

They can remember the routes and human faces for many years and can take revenge if someone has done wrong to them. Moreover, they do not forget their well-wishers for feeding them tasty food more often.

Self-awareness or self-recognition can help build powerful visual and social connections and help these birds to overcome many dangerous situations. It does not link their intelligence with the failure in a mark test.

Is there any crow that has passed the mirror test?

Indian house crow is one of the crow species that passed this mirror test when scientists exposed them to the mirror and noted the bird reaction.

They are widely found in many subcontinents of India and are social and communicate with other birds and group fellows. They are famous for storing food and have curious and exploring nature.

In the self-recognition test experiment, six Indian house crows were exposed to the mirror inside the cages, where they were captivated for a few days before the trail, and to a non-reflecting black cardboard. 

Two different behaviors were observed, such as the mirror exploring behavior after watching their image and the mark test to understand the self-awareness behavior.

The food and water sources inside the cages were removed a few minutes before the trail to avoid distractions. They placed a 40×30 cm mirror inside the cage with the side wall.

The crows were exposed for 30 minutes to the mirror and the non-reflecting black cardboard for the same duration. A camera hung at the top recorded the bird’s reactions for four days.

They changed its position daily to avoid the spatial connections these birds can develop with the same practice daily, such as from the left cage wall to the right side. 

The results showed they spent more time in front of the mirror exploring their reflection, compared to the black reflecting cupboard, and deeply observing the image, which shows their object differentiation and mirror preference.

Moreover, they pass the mark test by attempting to remove the colored marks using their beaks and claws when they observe their image.

Which birds can pass the mirror test?

Eurasian magpie is the first non-mammal species to pass the self-recognition test or the mirror test because magpie has a different brain structure and work than humans.

These birds were subjected to different color stickers on the body part below their beaks, and scientists noticed they instantly tried to remove the red sticker after watching its image.

The scientists were confused that the magpies might feel the sticker on their body and therefore remove it, but it has no link with self-recognition.

They placed a black sticker in the same position on its body and exposed it to the mirror. The magpie did not notice the black sticker due to the black fur, which showed the bird recognized its image.

Related Articles:

Why are crows gathering around my house?

Do Crows Pick Up Shiny Objects?