Corvids – coal-black, croaky, clever!

The intelligence of non-hominid animals has been one of my favourite topics for a long time, as all can attest to who ever had to suffer through a monologue of mine on parrot or ape intelligence. Corvids, the family that includes crows, rooks, and ravens, but also more colorful taxa such as magpies, jays and so on, are well known for their ability to make and use tools (cars, which can crack really tough nuts), understand what traffic lights are (red = stay away, green = go and get the nuts you placed on the road so the cars would crack them), and so on. New to me were crow funerals!

I’ve posted a bunch of corvid pics before, including rook prOn, a rather plucked-looking crow, and the wild (YAY!) ravens of Berlin and of Rügen, but I’ve always been too lazy to research a proper post on extant theropod intelligence. Rather, I should say I have never found the time.

Well, someone went and did it for me, so I’ll simply post a few more pictures, then send you off to read that excellent and informative article by Kimberly Gerson. It’s got loads of sci lit links, too!

A somewhat wet Rook in the drizzle at Marwell Zoo.

“Alarm! Jäger von rechts im Tiefflug!

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Kam aus einer Regenschwade, Herr Kaleun!”

These rooks played the ever-fun game for the best resting place.

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About Heinrich Mallison

I'm a dinosaur biomech guy working at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.
This entry was posted in Aves, Dinopics, Dinosauria, Maniraptora, Theropoda. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Corvids – coal-black, croaky, clever!

  1. palaeosam says:

    Aww, she missed the study where crows outwitted chimps in the social tool use department: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14745-crows-make-monkeys-out-of-chimps-in-mental-test.html There’s a very good book on this subject too: In the Company of Crows & Ravens, Marzluff, Erlich, and Angell, from Yale University Press.

  2. Herman Diaz says:

    “New to me were crow funerals!”

    Would you elaborate on that? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Many thanks in advance.

    “but I’ve always been too lazy to research a proper post on extant theropod intelligence.”

    That reminds me: See the “Bird IQ Index” in this link for a good general idea of how extant theropods compare to e/other intelligence-wise & why (Look for the emu; You can’t miss it): http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/birdbrain.html

  3. Hi Heinrich, Thank you so much for referring people to my blog post. Corvids are amazing birds, aren’t they? What I thought was going to be a quick blog post turned into an epic research project. I couldn’t believe the number of studies I found! I had to just decide I was done at some point, so yes paleosam, lots of studies got left out. That one you linked to is fabulous! (Maybe a whole Corvid vs Ape post is due?).

    On the funerals I’m a bit iffy. I am not convinced that’s what’s going on. Yes, they gather, but why? I stand in reserve on the funeral idea.

    Herman, that Bird IQ article is excellent. Lots of good resources there.

    Thank you everyone for your comments and enthusiasm. Hope to see you at my blog again.

    • Kimberly, I have already added your blog to my Reader – be sure I will read it all 🙂

      re funerals: it is a bad idea to use such a loaded human term, but what else would you use as a catch phrase?

      • I’m just not sure that the birds are holding ceremonies to mourn or pay tribute to their dead, which, to me, would define “funeral”. A better word? I really don’t know. I will be interested to read Barbara J. King’s upcoming book, “How Animals Grieve.” Maybe she will change my mind.

  4. Pingback: Theropod Thursday 31: Thieving Magpie | dinosaurpalaeo

  5. Pingback: Theropod Thursday 39: a New Year’s eve feast | dinosaurpalaeo

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