Crows: The Corvid Family Are Geniuses
On this blog, we talk about a myriad of different subjects. From national days to delicious recipes, we have something for all of our readers. In today’s blog, we’re going back to some clever animals. While we’re rather partial to the intelligent octopus, instead we’re moving our attention towards crows.
All You Need to Know About Crows
Crows are black birds which are part of the Corvid family. This category also includes ravens, rooks, jays, magpies, and nutcrackers. Known for their intelligence and adaptability, they are distinguished by their loud, harsh “caw”.
In general, American crows are smaller than over types. Additionally, their voices are less hoarse. This is how to spot the difference between the birds as ravens are usually larger. Meanwhile, rooks are smaller and have lighter-coloured bills.
Corvids are one of the most widespread bird families worldwide. Find them in:
- Northern Europe
- Iceland and Greenland
- Asia (from the Pacific Ocean to the Himalayas to India and Iran)
- Northwestern African and the Canary Islands
- North and Central America (as far as Nicaragua)
These birds prefer open landscapes including:
- treeless tundra
- rocky cliffs
- mountain forests
- open riverbanks
- scrubby woodlands
Omnivores, these birds eat nearly anything. Such as:
- Small Animals: mammals, amphibians, reptiles, eggs, and carrion.
- seeds, grains, nuts, and fruit
- non-insect arthropods, mollusks, wombs and even other birds
They have been observed storing foods in caches, trees, or on the ground.
Crows participate in a behaviour called “anting”. This is when the bird stands on an anthill and lets the ants climb on them. Then, they rub the ants into their feathers.
Corvids play important roles in mythology, fables, and indigenous cultures. They are often shown as clever tricksters. In some cultures, they are symbols of good luck. However, in others, they bring bad luck.
The Cleverness of Corvids
While “bird brain” is an insult thrown about on the playground, crows are actually very clever. What’s more, the exhibit behaviour that reflects our own. Large, noisy, and social, these birds are not shy in the presence of people.
Corvids can mimic human voices and other sounds. In fact, a group of magpies once tricked their zookeeper. By imitating the call to the chickens to come and be fed, they would trick the other birds to run out for a tree. Once the disappointed chickens retreated, the magpies would start the trick again. The chickens fell for it every time.
Tools and Tasks
Crows have the ability to use and make tools. Initially, only chimpanzees were observed doing this. Thus leading to the discovery that human’s aren’t the only creatures to solve problems, manipulate objects, and plan towards a desired result.
In an experiment conducted by the University of Oxford, a small buck of food was placed inside a tube. The crow was unable to reach the bucket because of the length of the tube. Therefore, she picked a short length of wire. Then, after failed attempts to snag the bucket, bent the wire into a hook. Ultimately, she was able to lift the bucket with it. Although this crow had seen hooks, she have never seen the wire being bent into a hook. This continued to occur with 9 out of the 10 birds used in the experiment.
Crows hold grudges for years. Researchers at the University of Seattle wore masks while harassing some corvids. Five years later, when wearing the masks again, they were attacked by 50 crows despite the birds not seeing the mask for all that time.