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posted by mrpg on Wednesday December 06 2017, @12:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the comunity dept.

What are crows saying when their loud cawing fills a dark winter's evening? Despite the inescapable ruckus, nobody knows for sure. Birds congregate daily before and after sleep, and they make some noise, but what might be happening in those brains is a mystery.

Curious about these raucous exchanges, researchers at the University of Washington Bothell are listening in. They are placing equipment on the roof of their building—a meeting place for some of the thousands of crows that sleep in nearby campus trees—and using a sort of computerized eavesdropping to study the relationship between calls and the birds' behavior.

"With audio alone, our team is able to localize and record the birds remotely, and in dim light that makes this situation less suitable for video tracking," said Shima Abadi, an assistant professor at UW Bothell's School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. "It's still a challenging task, but we can use the audio signals to look for patterns and learn more about what the birds may be communicating."

Crows are very intelligent creatures and among the few that can use tools. In recent years scientists have come to study them as a way to better understand human intelligence and how it evolves in nature.


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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by LoRdTAW on Wednesday December 06 2017, @12:43PM (5 children)

    by LoRdTAW (3755) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @12:43PM (#606111) Journal

    It's a sad time when not even the animals are free from warrantless wiretaps and eavesdropping.

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  • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:06PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:06PM (#606172)

    Except for the part where this has nothing to do with wiretapping. It's just clickbait.

    The team of mostly undergraduate students has been perfecting its audio recording technique. They placed four audio recorders in a 10-foot square in a parking lot, and then placed a speaker playing a crow call in one of the quadrants. The recorders have precise time stamps to calculate when the sound waves arrive, and then software compares the times to pinpoint where the sound was generated.

    --
    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
  • (Score: 2) by The Archon V2.0 on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:10PM

    by The Archon V2.0 (3887) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:10PM (#606175)

    If they've got nothing to hide they've got nothing to fear.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by crb3 on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:43PM (1 child)

    by crb3 (5919) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:43PM (#606197)

    Only when there's probable caws.

    • (Score: 4, Touché) by bob_super on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:48PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:48PM (#606334)

      You don't even need probable cause: they're black.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:43PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:43PM (#606198)

    I just know they're talking about me.