Aug 9, 2012

Ode to the Crow

"As a group, crows show remarkable examples of intelligence. Certain species top the avian IQ scale.[8] Wild hooded crows in Israel have learned to use bread crumbs for bait-fishing.[9] Crows will engage in a kind of mid-air jousting, or air-"chicken" to establish pecking order. Crows have been found to engage in feats such as sports,[10] tool use, the ability to hide and store food across seasons, episodic-like memory, and the ability to use individual experience in predicting the behavior of environmental conspecifics.[11]

Research has found some crow species capable not only of tool use but of tool construction as well.[2] One species, the New Caledonian Crow, has also been intensively studied recently because of its ability to manufacture and use its own tools in the day-to-day search for food. These tools include "knives" cut from stiff leaves and stiff stalks of grass.[12] Another skill involves dropping tough nuts into a trafficked street and waiting for a car to crush them open.[13][14] On October 5, 2007, researchers from the University of Oxford, England presented data acquired by mounting tiny video cameras on the tails of New Caledonian Crows. It turned out that they use a larger variety of tools than previously known, plucking, smoothing, and bending twigs and grass stems to procure a variety of foodstuffs.[15][16] Crows in Queensland, Australia have learned how to eat the toxic cane toad by flipping the cane toad on its back and violently stabbing the throat where the skin is thinner, allowing the crow to access the non-toxic innards; their long beaks ensure that all of the innards can be removed.[17][18]

Recent research suggests that crows have the ability to recognize one individual human from another by facial features.[19]

Crows are now considered to be among the world's most intelligent animals."

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