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Crow & Raven Intelligence

On Wed, 7 Jun 1995 21:14:52, Dave (DAVEH47@delphi.com) wrote:

> Crows and ravens are the most intelligent of all birds.  Experts
> place crow/raven intelligence levels far above dogs and cats!

I can attest from personal experience to the intelligent behavior of at least 
one crow, Hugin (Old Norse for _mind_ or _wisdom_), who lived with me for 
several years.

She invented games and showed a lively interest in the physical world.  Once 
she placed a peanut in a paper cup, then seized the cup by its rim and shook 
it, causing the peanut to fly out.  She then replaced the peanut and repeated 
the experiment, time and again, until she was catapulting the peanut across 
the room, running to retrieve it, and catapulting it again.  From time to 
time, she would put some object on the kitchen table, slowly pushing it 
toward the edge, until it was right at the brink.  Then she would stand over 
it, give it a shove, and watch as it fell to the floor.  Frequently she then 
would retrieve the object and repeat the process, evidently deriving some 
enjoyment out of watching it fall.

A favorite game was to perch on the edge of the cat box which I kept 
filled with water on the kitchen floor for her to bathe in, holding a cup in 
her beak.  She would repeatedly scoop up water from the bath and pour it 
onto the floor.  One day, she was standing on the kitchen sink, and noticed 
the perforated plastic cup, part of the dish drainer designed to hold 
silverware.  She picked it up and carried it down to her bath.  Holding it by 
its rim, she lowered it into the bath, and watched the water bubbling into it 
as she held it submerged.  After it was about half full, she picked it up and 
held it over the edge, watching the water drain out of the bottom onto the 

I could recount many more such instances of crow cleverness, as well as 
that of other birds, notably African Gray parrots, who have demonstrated 
clear evidence of symbolic logic and language ability.  I must add that I 
find it hard to doubt that some of the dinosaurs were capable of similar 
intelligent behavior.  In particular, the problem-solving intelligence 
ascribed to the "raptors" of Jurassic Park was quite believable to me, after 
my experience with Hugin.  :)

Skip Dahlgren
Applications Programmer, Office of Educational Development
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Phone: 501/296-1087; FAX: 501/686-7053 (new FAX#!)
e-mail: sdahlgren@liblan.uams.edu; bcsskip@aol.com
-ex-archaeologist; lifelong afficionado of dinosaurs and their latter-day kin
"Cross-platform computing is much safer than downhill!"  :)