Published on June 22nd, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie1
The Crow: The Most Intelligent – The Most Useful?
They are often looked down upon. Throughout our history we have wrongly associated them with evil, the devil and being pests. But our understanding of crows is slowly starting to change.
Finally, we are beginning to see crows as fellow animals whose intelligence leaves dogs in the shade.
There are many types of crows. Ravens, rooks, and Jackdaws are just some that are familiar to us.
Crows possess remarkable brain-power although few people realise just how smart these animals can be.
They can fashion tools without any prior instruction. In Israel the Wild hooded crow has learned how to catch fish by using crumbs as bait. They possess amazing memories and can recognise individual people even after having not seen them for several years.
New Caledonian Crows
When it comes to constructing tools, the New Caledonian Crow leads the way. This bird is regarded by scientists as the only animal besides humans who modifies tools that they have created. These birds have been observed making tools out of objects that they have never encountered before. Such as fastening wires into hooks.
Caledonian crows are also one of the few animals that use tools to gather other tools to achieve a purpose, usually the retrieval of food. Once such experiment that demonstrated this to great effect was conducted by Gavin Hunt and a team of researchers at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
The experiment consisted of two boxes. One contained food while the other a long stick. In addition, the crows were also given a shorter stick. To reach the food the crows had to use the short stick to retrieve the long stick.
Out of the seven crows who were given the task, six completed it successfully at the very first attempt.
Relationship With People
Crows, like parrots, can imitate sounds and have been taught to speak words and phrases. Some people even keep crows as pets.
Crows are often hunted and shot by people. In the United States there is a hunting season but crows can be killed if they are causing a nuisance or have been constituted as a health hazard. In the UK crows are also considered a pest and they can be shot after obtaining licences under certain conditions.
Crows could find themselves enjoying a more rewarding relationship with people as more of us discover just how intelligent these creatures truly are. However, the true seismic shift will probably occur when we realise how useful they can be to us.
- Crows can be as large as 60 centimetres (20 inches) in height as in the case of the Common Raven.
- They can weigh one kg (2.2 lbs).
- Crows usually live to be five years but some can live as long as 20 years. One captive grow was 59 years old before dying.
- They are found in virtually all temperate climates with the exception of South America.
Highly Recommended Reading
Crow Country by Mark Cocker is a fascinating well-written read that will entertain as the author peers in the world of the crow.
You can obtain In Crow Country here from Amazon.
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access: In Crow Country.
For those who live in Canada, you can obtain: Crow Country here.
For Germany: Crow Country.
For France: Crow Country.