Bird Brains

Most people think that birds are dumb, but actually, they’re very, very smart. Especially crows. These sinister looking creatures have long been used for horror imagery, such as in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. But in reality, they are very social, intelligent animals.

The brain-to-body weight ratio of a crow is equal to that of great apes and cetaceans, such as dolphins. Crows live in tight-knit, social groups called murders. They are able to communicate with each other, using any of their 250 different calls. Crows are also monogamous, which means they mate for life.

Surprisingly, crows are also known to use tools- a trait observed in other intelligent animals such as apes and humans. They have been observed using crumbs to bait fish and dropping nuts on rocks to crush the shells. Their most sophisticated toolmaking- sharpening twigs with their beaks in order to harvest larvae from holes in wood; few apes have been observed making their tools in such an intricate manner.

Scientists have also learned that crows can distinguish between human faces, recognize themselves in mirrors, and determine whether a pair of objects are matched or mismatched.

With many more examples of their intelligence available, crows go far beyond what is expected of their walnut-sized brains.

Watch another intelligent bird, the great-tailed grackle, solve problems in this video: