The title of this short documentary refers to the high mortality of wild crows from a variety of reasons: predators, car crashes, diseases, extreme weather, people shooting at them. Only 40% of hatchlings make it to their first year, another 50% don't see their second birthday. Crows can recognize a face out of a crowd, especially the ones who have been enemies of the crows, and tell the rest of their flock who the bad guys are. Thus the title of this work.
This 52-minute-long documentary is about behaviorial experiments several ornithologists from the U of Washington (UoW)in Seattle and the Konrad Lorenze Institut in Austria have been conducting to prove the intelligence of these fascinating birds. One of these researchers, John Marsluff, is a wildlife biologist at UoW who provides most of the scientific data. Crows are smart, highly sociable, opportunistic, grieve for their dead partners, "scold" passersby and learn from other crows. They are grossly misunderstood. They communicate within their flocks, have over 250 distinct crow calls and are very territorial. They can remember a face for up to two years. Although they don't have the largest brains in the bird world, they are the most intelligent of all birds and have benefitted from evolutionary intelligence.
The Seattle ornithologists show the viewing audience the unique "tricks" crows can do, including recording the antics of a crow sibling pair, White Wing and her brother, who are followed around via radio transmitter for the first year to record their behavior. This team walks around the UoW campus wearing spooky-looking full-face masks during the experiments which probably had passersby watching the film crew wondering what was going on.
This is narrated by Nora Young, a soft and feminine voice that is accompanied by violin music whenever the scientists aren't speaking about their subject matter.
A lot of stuff mentioned in this documentary has already been extensively written about by Berndt Heinrich in his books on birds as well "Mind of a Raven" and "Ravens in Winter," books I highly recommend to anyone who wants to read more about crows and ravens.
Although this short documentary may not win any awards for cinematography, this is an interesting and enjoyable documentary for any bird or crow lover. I'd wish it were another hour longer, though. By the end of the documentary I was becoming attached to the crow subjects. I'm sure I won't be the only one after watching this!
I'm not sure why it says here "Released 11 January 2011" when this DVD is already on sale on the PBS website.