July 15th, 2009 02:55 AM
Animals are smarter than you think...
When you think of brainy animals, what do you think of? Apes...? Dogs...? Dolphins...?
Betcha don't think birds... I remember as a kid watching the National Geographic show about Jane Goodall's observations of chimps using twigs as fishing poles to get at termites... but they just stripped leaves off sticks... but apparently, crows and related birds can fabricate and manipulate tools at least as sophisticated as chimps, and demonstrate very advanced planning to achieve a desired result.
The Cleverness of Crows
Anita Wolff - July 8th, 2009
As researchers explore the nature of the intelligence of animals, the corvid family presents some arresting examples of brainy birds. The most common corvids are crows, ravens, and jays; other relatives are the rooks, magpies, choughs, nutcrackers, and jackdaws. The familiar corvids are large, noisy, and social, and they are not shy in the presence of people. They play pranks, tease other animals, and engage in aerial acrobatics for fun. Crows live happily in human settlements and have found many ways to exploit the curious human trait of discarding food.
The strong social structure of corvids has been widely studied, as have their complex vocalizations and cooperative actions. Pioneering animal behaviorist Konrad Lorenz studied jackdaws in his native Austria; his King Solomon’s Ring reports his interactions with them and observations for their behavior.
Corvids are known to mimic human voices and other sounds and to enjoy the confusion that results. Zookeeper Gerald Durrell recounted the antics of his pet magpies, who learned to imitate the Durrell’s maid’s call to the chickens to come and be fed. When the magpies got bored, they called the chickens, who came running in anticipation of a treat. When the disappointed chickens went back to roost, the magpies called them again, and again, and the chickens, no match for the clever magpies, fell for the ruse every time.
In the 19th century crows and ravens were considered to be the cleverest of birds — inquisitive, playful, and able mimics — and though today parrots are giving them a run for the money, there are some areas in which crows truly shine. Zoologists and behaviorial researchers have documented numerous examples of the crow’s sharp mind, adding to the vast body of anecdote and folklore surrounding these birds.
Tools and tasks
One outstanding example is the crow’s ability to use tools, and what’s more, to make tools. In 1960 Jane Goodall created a sensation when she reported seeing chimpanzees make tools; her observations forced a reevaluation of the human’s status as sole practitioner of tool-making and its related abilities to solve problems, manipulate objects, and plan toward a desired result.
This video below shows an astounding feat by a New Caledonian crow. In an experiment conducted by behaviorists from the University of Oxford, a small bucket of food was placed inside a tube; the crow was unable to reach the bucket because of the length of the tube. She then picked up a short length of wire, and, after a few futile attempts to snag the bucket with it, bent the wire into a hook and lifted the bucket from the tube. What’s more, the crow repeated the behavior in nine out of 10 subsequent trials.
Video- Crow creates and uses a tool to get food
New Caledonian crows are believed to be especially adept at using tools, being known to use naturally occurring hooks. But although this crow had seen hooks, she had never seen wire being bent into a hook.
The researchers, clearly impressed, mused: “Our finding, in a species so distantly related to humans and lacking symbolic language, raises numerous questions about the kinds of understanding of “folk physics” and causality available to nonhumans, the conditions for these abilities to evolve, and their associated neural adaptations.”
Another experiment with Caledonian crows again involved an out-of-reach bit of food. The crows quickly solved the problem by using a long stick to reach the food. And when the long stick was placed inside a cage, the crows—six out of seven in the experiment–used a shorter stick to push the long stick into a position where it could be picked up. Thus the crows used a tool to manipulate another tool, and it was not just a single individual with this skill. The use of a “metatool” is a behavior difficult even for primates.
Video- Crow uses a "metatool"
Much of the corvids’ problem-solving is directed toward obtaining food or water. And why eat bread when you could have fish? This hooded crow in Tel Aviv scattered bits of bread into a pond and then caught the fish that came to eat them. With no prior experience of the situation, a raven quickly figured out how to reel in a piece of food that a researcher had attached to a long string.
And the winner is…
The top prize for clever problem-solving goes to these Japanese crows, who first solved the problem of how to get at the nutmeats from hard-shelled nuts (drop them in the road and let cars run over them, then swoop down and eat them) and then devised to plan for avoiding getting run over themselves (drop them in the crosswalk, let the nuts get crushed by cars, then wait for the light to turn red and stop traffic)!
Video- crow uses traffic to open nuts
"Who is to say that I am not an instrument of karma? Indeed, who is to say that I am not the very hand of God himself, dispatched by the Almighty to smite the Philistines and hypocrites, to lay low the dishonest and corrupt, and to bust the jawbone of some jackass that so desperately deserves it?"
July 15th, 2009 03:21 AM
I took Ornithology in college and remember the professor saying that some pariots have the same brain capability as a 6 year old human. Also some birds have memorized and recited thousands of calls and songs. Birds are very smart, just ask any waterfowl hunter.
July 15th, 2009 01:48 PM
Anyone who has seen a crow post lookouts and sentries knows how smart they are.
It is surely true that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Nor can you make them grateful for your efforts.
July 15th, 2009 03:38 PM
I found a shot crow when I was a kid. It pecked me like crazy when I picked it up..lol, We nursed it back to health (shot in a wing), it stayed with us for 3 years.. We tried to let it go and it wouldn't leave, they are very intelligent. One day it was just gone.
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