Friday, February 22, 2013

PBS Nature presents crows as among the most intelligent of animals, who can recognize individual people

On February 20, 2013, PBS Nature presented “A Murder of Crows”, an examination of the most intelligent of all bird species.

On the Monday afternoon that Hurricane Sandy was approaching, I walked outside the garage twice to check things, and twice a crow flew down and drove me back inside.  He seemed to recognize me and want to warn me that a storm was coming. This wild animal seemed to care about my safety. He was an avian "Richard Parker".
Crows are able to learn to recognize individual people, and even pass on this knowledge to other members of their families (including young) and social groups.
Crows do not have the largest brains of birds (parrots do), but they seem to have the most complex. 
Crows (corvids) developed their intelligence for two main reasons:  they are omnivores, and have to learn more to eat a wide variety of foods than would just a seed eater.  And they have extended families, based on monogamous “marriage”, something social conservatives will like. 
Experiments show that parents teach young crows to recognize people, and also to make tools.  Only elephants and chimpanzees, besides man, can make tools.  There was a demonstration of how a crow cracks a nut by dropping it from the right height, and even understands how traffic signals work.

Watch A Murder of Crows on PBS. See more from Nature.
Wikipedia attribution link for crow picture. 

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