Something to Crow About

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It’s well known that crows and jays and their relatives in the family Corvidae are the most intelligent birds.

There’s an all black bird native to New Caledonia known as the New Caledonian Crow. The New Caledonian crow sometimes digs for grubs in nooks or crevices of a tree’s bark by using a small twig to probe for the grubs. After it finds the grub, the crow pulls the insect out of the crevice, demonstrating tool use. The birds are able to make hooks out of twigs and leaves for even more effective food gathering. The New Caledonian Crow is a model species for trying to understand the impact of tool use in birds and the evolution of intelligence. See an article with video from the LATimes


Six Rooks, another corvid native to Europe and parts of Scandinavia and Asia —pick up litter at Puy du Fou, a French theme park that features period villages and gardens, as well as historic re-enactments, performances and events. The avian trash collectors were raised and trained by Christophe Gaborit, a falconer and project manager with the park’s Academy of Falconry. Gaboritraised and trained his first pair of trash-collecting rooks in 2000 by offering them a reward whenever they deposited trash in a special cabinet; when the birds deposited trash in the drawer, a second compartment would be opened to reward them with a tasty treat.


The Ravens of the Tower of London are a group of at least six captive ravens that live at the Tower of London. Their presence is traditionally believed to protect the Crown. One legend that connects the history of the tower with ravens says that John Flamsteed (1646 – 1719), the ‘astronomical observator’ complained to King Charles II that the birds were interfering with his observations. The King ordered their destruction only to be told that if the ravens left the Tower, the White Tower would fall and a great disaster befall the Kingdom. So the King changed his mind and decreed that at least six ravens should be kept at the Tower at all times to prevent disaster. Today the Tower’s ravens are one of the attractions for tourists visiting London. Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, was impressed by the birds’ verbal skills; one of the ravens greeted each person in his entourage with a “Good morning!


And from the Daily Mail of the UK, there is the girl who gets gifts from crows: Eight-year-old leaves food for birds and they bring her beads and pendants in return:

  • Gabi Mann lives in Seattle, Washington, where local crows bring her gifts
  • The birds began following her after finding she accidentally dropped food
  • In 2013 she began leaving food for the neighbourhood crows in her garden
  • The birds have brought her more than 70 beads, buttons and piece of metal
  • Her most prized present is a heart-shaped pendant left on the feeding table
  • Another of her favourites is half a friendship pendant with the word ‘best’
  • Experts say the birds may be bringing her presents as they would a mate

See the entire article plus a video and an interview with Gabi.

Are crows smart? Smarter than the average seven year old child, say scientists.


1 thought on “Something to Crow About”

  1. Roger,

    Yes indeed, birds are smart, some smarter than others.

    I have noted that, in our supplemental seed feeding experiment, our Olive Backed Orioles have changed their feeding times so as not to have to compete with our King Parrots who all arrive at the same time each day.

    And our Magpies are said to be able to memorise up to 6 different faces so as to be able to remember those humans they do not have to fear and can, in fact, befriend, even introducing their new born chicks to their human friends.


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