The American Crow Is One Smart Bird

Crow Crows are interesting and smart. How much?  Now there is a question.

Blane Klemek, of the Bemidji Pioneer reports:

“An interesting part of crows’ behavior is their sense of community with one another. It’s no mystery to anyone familiar with crows that these birds tend to form large and noisy flocks.

But what might not be common knowledge is how cooperative some populations or “family groups” of crows tend to be when it comes to brood-rearing. For instance, research has shown that even though crows become reproductively mature at about 2 years of age, they don’t necessarily form pair-bonds, mate and raise their own offspring immediately.

It turns out that some crows will help raise their own siblings, staying within their parents’ territory for five years or longer while assisting with parental duties such as feeding nestlings and acting as sentinels.

While the intelligence of crows is not disputed, it is difficult to study and learn just how intelligent wild crows really are. Reports exist that crows can distinguish between a man carrying a gun and a man carrying a stick. Such an incident is related by the late Ernest Thompson Seton, who, in his popular book “Wild Animals I Have Known,” wrote about “Silverspot, the Story of a Crow.”

In the story, Seton relates how Silverspot would fly above him and vocalize to his flock. To test Silverspot’s intelligence, Seton, during separate times while standing on a bridge that spanned a ravine, stood alone one day, took with him a stick on another day, and stood on the bridge holding a gun on the third day. When he held the gun, Seton wrote, “… at once (Silverspot) cried out, ‘Great danger — a gun.’ ‘ca-ca-ca-ca Caw!’ His lieutenant repeated the cry, and every crow in the troop began to tower and scatter from the rest.”

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Published: July 21, 2009