Ravens reconcile after a brawl if they are close allies

Plenty of primates and other mammals reconcile after a conflict, but previously no birds were known to do so.

Now, scientists have found that angry ravens might kick and chase each other, but if they are close allies they make up afterwards.

Monitoring a group of seven captive ravens (Corvus corax), Orlaith Fraser of the University of Vienna in Austria and colleague Thomas Bugnyar found that pairs of birds were likely to be more friendly to each other if they had fought each other in the previous 10 minutes.

“It wasn”t just standard friendly behaviour,” New Scientist quoted Fraser as saying.

Rather the ravens sat touching each other, and sometimes touched their beaks together or preened each other. Ravens are not tactile like primates, so sitting in contact is a strong social signal.

“That”s very good evidence for reconciliation,” says Filippo Aureli of Liverpool John Moores University in the UK.

Comparing animals” typical behaviour with the behaviour they display in the minutes immediately after a fight is a “well-established method” to look for such behaviour, he adds.

Ravens that had squabbled were more likely to reconcile if they were allies.

“These are valuable partners who share food and support each other in fights,” says Fraser.

“Many animals have mechanisms for maintaining valuable relationships,” says Phyllis Lee of the University of Stirling, UK. Social animals that can recognise other individuals and form long-term relationships with them are most likely to be able to reconcile, she says.

The study appears in the Journal PLoS One.

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