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Re: SV: Rooks cooperate to get treats



On 3-Apr-08, at 1:26 PM, Tommy Tyrberg wrote:

Corvids are pretty damn smart. A well-known trick of which several
corvids are known to be capable, is to pull on a string with food on the
end with the bill, put a foot on string, pull another bit etc. until the
food is reached.


Bernd Heinrich tried this problem on young Ravens which he was rearing
(so as to be sure that they had never encountered this situation before)
to see how long they would take to figure things out.
More than half of them did it immediately, on the first try, and without
any experimentation or fumbling. As Heinrich writes, it is hard to
interpret this in any other way than that ravens are capable of figuring
out a course of action and its effect in advance.


A pair of Magpies mobbing a predator (e. g. a cat) sometimes work in a
co-ordinated manner with one bird confronting it and keeping it
distracted while the other hits it from behind. I've seen this myself.

Intelligence(smartness) is a matter of comprehension. The better something comprehends a situation, the more it realizes it's possible influences on/in it. I generally don't believe that any creature is stupid. People commonly say things like, "well can it open a door" or my favorite, "can it build ____(a car, building, spaceship)". To the latter I like to reply, "Can you?"


Birds in general seem to be some of THE most aware creatures I've ever observed - they're ALWAYS looking around to see what's going on. I've never encountered a situation with more than 2 crows where there wasn't at least 1 perched in a higher place surveying what's going on or coming into the vicinity, ie. a "lookout".

BTW, I would think magpies are a far better comparison as far as flight profile than Archaeopteryx. For one I've noticed that magpies can't glide very effectively, or at all, while crows excel at it. When a magpie stops flapping it immediately goes into a descending glide, which is what I'd expect from Archie with it's much less powerful flapping muscles.