The recognition of individuals is a basic cognitive ability of social animals. A prerequisite for individual recognition is distinct characteristics that can be used to distinguish between other conspecific individuals. Studies of birds have shown that visual information, such as colour patterning, is used in individual recognition. However, in the case of monochromatic birds, colour patterning cannot be used to identify individuals. Therefore, we expected that the configuration of facial features, such as the shape of the bills or eyes, may have enough individuality to permit individual recognition in such species. In this study, we aimed to clarify visible individual differences in the facial configuration of large-billed crows (Corvus macrorhynchos). Specifically, we analysed the profile pictures of 16 crows. We measured 26 variables in 20 pictures of each bird and then performed principal component analysis and discriminant function analysis. The results showed that the configuration of the facial profiles was individually distinct, but re-classification by discriminant functions implied that it did not clearly differ between sexes. These results suggest that crows may be able to recognise individuals on the basis of the individuality of facial configuration, even in the absence of any conspicuous colour patterning.
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