Do you know how intelligent crows are? In today’s western culture, many people view crows negatively. In many popular myths, crows often symbolize death or misfortune. Many of us have also been misled into believing that some of these myths have come from indigenous beliefs, while on the contrary, most indigenous groups hold crows in high regard. In fact, many believe that crows are a symbol of good luck and that the birds are quite intelligent.
This belief that crows are intelligent is actually very accurate since many studies have been done on the Corvid family which also includes jays, magpies & ravens. These birds do not share our brain structure, which enables us to do complex problem-solving, but they do have very densely packed neurons that enable them to simple problem solve and to communicate knowledge.
Studies on Crows
Past studies have pitted crows against a variety of challenges to get food. To achieve a successful result, one must complete certain sequences in multistep problems. This ability when compared to human development is similar to that of a 7–10-year-old’s capabilities. Children younger than 7 have been shown to be incapable of completing similar tasks. These tasks include the use of tools, understanding of mass in objects and multistep problem-solving.
Another fascinating study examined how crows use their memory to recognize human faces and identify threats. A group of researchers captured and banded a group of crows while wearing the same full cover face masks. Once the researchers released the crows, they observed that the birds recognized the threatening humans and scolded them. Over the next five years, researchers conducted numerous follow-up studies. While wearing the same masks used during the initial capture, they got interesting findings. It was noted that the crows had spread information to others, and the number of crows that scolded the humans grew to 66% over the study period. This shows that the crows spread the threat information and retained it, showing that they could specifically perceive certain humans as more threatening than others and spread the identifying features to other crows and offspring.
So just remember, if you ever verbally scold a crow for squawking too loud, it may acknowledge that and share the story with its friends.
If you found this blog interesting, I encourage you to learn some more about the subject for yourself. Here is a link to a great YouTube video showcasing one of the studies.