Friday, December 6, 2013

The Crow in the Know

I first became fascinated by crows and the family Corvidae one bright winter’s morning when I was looking out the solarium window at the tree where we feed the birds.
Painting by Jacqueline McIntryre
We had tossed out bread crumbs, nuts and other goodies, and I noticed that while the silly sparrows were just hopping around pecking, a crow was carefully selecting each bread crumb, flying away fast southeast into the trees with it and then returning for another. I could see that swift black beauty planning for the future, and I was duly impressed.
Oddly, the experience made me realize how much I admire the exercise of intelligence in all its forms.
And I’m not their only admirer. “Corvids like crows and ravens have been known for their intelligence long before much research was given to the subject,” wrote Lisa Winter. “In addition to being one of the few animals capable of using tools to find food and solve problems, they have complex social structures. Information is shared within the murder so that group decisions can be made. They have incredible memories which allow them to recognize human faces. This is bad news for the people that aren’t well liked by the birds, because word can spread and the crows will dive and attack faces.”

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