Behaviour of American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) when encountering an oncoming vehicle

Shomen Mukherjee, Jayanti Ray-Mukherjee, Robin Sarabia


A carrion feeder attempting to forage on a road benefits greatly from an appropriate response to vehicular traffic. In this observational study, we tested the ability of American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) to judge the behaviour of fast-moving vehicles and avoid collision on a narrow road. Unsurprisingly, American Crows feeding in the same lane as the approaching vehicle always flew off, but interestingly, a significant proportion of American Crows in the opposite lane chose to remain on the road. In addition, 21% of the American Crows in the same lane as the approaching vehicle walked over to the opposite lane to avoid injury, but none of the American Crows in the opposite lane walked over to the lane in which the vehicle was approaching. These are among the first quantitative data indicating that a non-human animal can detect the directionality of oncoming vehicles on a road and, like humans, actively move out of the way or switch lanes to avoid death based on an understanding of the bahaviour of vehicular traffic.


boldness; behavioural response; Corvus brachyrhynchos; American Crow; cognition; Everglades National Park; learning; road ecology; Florida

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