Corvidae: Facts and Photography
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Eldritch
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Corvidae: Facts and Photography
Quote:Method is more important than strength, when you wish to control your enemies.

By dropping golden beads near a snake, a crow once managed to have a passer-by kill the snake for the beads.


- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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I like to look at the human self-model as a neurocomputational weapon, a certain data structure that the brain can activate from time to time.

Thomas Metzinger
2012 Mar 23 19:16
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RE: Corvidae: Facts and Photography
Crows as Clever as Great Apes, Study Says

Anyone who has watched crows, jays, ravens and other members of the corvid family will know they're anything but "birdbrained."


For instance, jays will sit on ant nests, allowing the angry insects to douse them with formic acid, a natural pesticide which helps rid the birds of parasites. Urban-living carrion crows have learned to use road traffic for cracking tough nuts. They do this at traffic light crossings, waiting patiently with human pedestrians for a red light before retrieving their prize.

Yet corvids may be even cleverer than we think. A new study suggests their cognitive abilities are a match for primates such as chimpanzees and gorillas. Furthermore, crows may provide clues to understanding human intelligence.

Published tomorrow in the journal Science, the study is co-authored by Nathan Emery and Nicola Clayton, from the departments of animal behavior and experimental psychology at Cambridge University, England.

They say that, while having very different brain structures, both crows and primates use a combination of mental tools, including imagination and the anticipation of possible future events, to solve similar problems. They base their argument on existing studies.

Emery and Clayton write, "These studies have found that some corvids are not only superior in intelligence to birds of other avian species (perhaps with the exception of some parrots), but also rival many nonhuman primates."

Increasingly, scientists agree that it isn't physical need that makes animal smart, but social necessity. Group living tends to be a complicated business, so for individuals to prosper they need to understand exactly what's going on. So highly social creatures like dolphins, chimps, and humans tend to be large-brained and intelligent.

Large Brains

The study notes that crows are also social and have unusually large brains for their size. "It is relatively the same size as the chimpanzee brain," the authors said.

They say that crows and apes both think about their social and physical surroundings in complex ways, using tool use as an example.

Like apes, many birds employ tools to gather food, but it isn't clear whether chimps or crows appreciate how these tools work. It may be that they simply discover their usefulness by accident. However, studies of New Caledonian crows, from the South Pacific, suggest otherwise.

New Caledonian crows manufacture two very different types of tool for finding prey. Hooks crafted from twigs are used to poke grubs from holes in trees, while they also cut up stiff leaves with their beaks, carefully sculpting them into sharp instruments for probing leaf detritus for insects and other invertebrates.

A New Caledonian crow in captivity learned how to bend a piece of straight wire into a hook to probe for food.

Such sophisticated tool manufacture and use is unique in non-human wild animals, according to Jackie Chappell, a UK-based zoologist who has studied the birds.

Emery and Clayton compare the crow's handiwork to minor human technological innovations. And because different New Caledonian crow populations make these tools to slightly different designs, some scientists take this as evidence of some form of culture, as has been suggested in chimpanzees.

Other corvids may use memories of past experiences to plan ahead.

In the case of Western scrub jays, a previous study by Emery and Clayton suggests jays with past experience of pilfering food caches collected by other jays can then use this knowledge to protect their own caches.

Lab experiments showed that if a habitual thief was observed while burying its own cache, it would later go back and move it when no other bird was looking. Meanwhile, "innocent" jays did not exhibit the same cunning.

Imagination?

The researchers also argue that such behavior suggests Western scrub jays are able to second guess another's intentions, or, to put it another way, get into another bird's mind. In which case, this could be evidence for imagination.

Emery and Clayton write, "Western scrub jays may present a case for imagination because the jays needed to have remembered the previous relevant social context, used their own experience of having been a thief to predict the behavior of a pilferer, and determined the safest course of action to protect the caches from pilferage."

Studies to assess similar cognitive abilities in apes have been inconclusive, according to John Pearce, professor of psychology at Cardiff University in Wales.

"[The Western scrub jay study] is some of the best evidence going that one animal can understand what another is thinking," he added.

Pearce believes we can gain insights into the basic mechanisms of human intelligence through the study of animals. He says language is generally considered to be one of the major divisions between human and animal intelligence, which makes Western scrub jays especially noteworthy.

He said, "What's so interesting is that while Western scrub jays may not have language, the research shows they've got many of the intellectual abilities that humans have. This suggests that many of our intellectual abilities which we think we need language for perhaps we don't in fact need language for. That then makes us try to understand these abilities in a different way."

If we're as smart as we think we are, perhaps we need to keep an even closer eye on those clever old crows.

National Geographic.

I like to look at the human self-model as a neurocomputational weapon, a certain data structure that the brain can activate from time to time.

Thomas Metzinger
2012 Mar 23 19:24
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RE: Corvidae: Facts and Photography
I had that pleasure to see whole bunch of Ravens while being in Siberia. They were so big that once I saw one on the ground two meters from me, I was feeling uneasy to go closer to him. At least 1m wings,body of some 60cm and it's bill of about 10cm. Horrifying beautiful.

Imperare sibi maximum imperium est
2012 Mar 24 15:13
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RE: Corvidae: Facts and Photography
I have fed some neighbourhood crows for the past few years. I don't always take the same route to the bus stop every morning, but my winged friends will find me nevertheless because they know that I always have a few treats for them. Smile

I'm not surprised at how intelligent crows are, because the ancients had already noticed it. In Aesop's tale The Crow and the Pitcher, the problem solving skills of the corvid are clearly seen. However, in The Fox and the Crow, the crow is outsmarted by a fox:

Quote:In the fable a crow has found a piece of cheese and retired to a branch to eat it. A fox, wanting the cheese for himself, flatters the crow, calling it beautiful and wondering whether its voice is as sweet to match. When the crow lets out a caw, the cheese falls and is devoured by the fox.

Big Grin
2012 Mar 26 16:00
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RE: Corvidae: Facts and Photography
In honour to Zika who eventually died although I tried to help him

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Imperare sibi maximum imperium est
2012 Mar 26 16:25
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RE: Corvidae: Facts and Photography
(2012 Mar 26 16:00)Violet Wrote:  I have fed some neighbourhood crows for the past few years. I don't always take the same route to the bus stop every morning, but my winged friends will find me nevertheless because they know that I always have a few treats for them. Smile

It's funny how nearly everyone sees these extraordinary creatures on a daily basis, but 99% of people pay no attention to them.




I like to look at the human self-model as a neurocomputational weapon, a certain data structure that the brain can activate from time to time.

Thomas Metzinger
2012 Mar 29 07:46
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RE: Corvidae: Facts and Photography
(2012 Mar 29 07:46)Eldritch Wrote:  It's funny how nearly everyone sees these extraordinary creatures on a daily basis, but 99% of people pay no attention to them.

Crows are smarter than 99 percent of the shoppers at a certain eastern Helsinki shopping center I know of. ;)
2012 Apr 01 19:48
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RE: Corvidae: Facts and Photography
(2012 Mar 26 16:00)Violet Wrote:  I have fed some neighbourhood crows for the past few years. I don't always take the same route to the bus stop every morning, but my winged friends will find me nevertheless because they know that I always have a few treats for them. Smile

My aunt has fed the crows at her house for some ridiculous amount of time -- 25 years or so? She knows all of them and they know her and reply to the names she gives them. She feeds them at least once every day. She talks to them too Heart I always liked crows because of this.
2012 Apr 01 20:04
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RE: Corvidae: Facts and Photography
Corvidae together with parrots and pigeons are perhaps the most intelligent birds.

I see plenty of crows about, I see a lot of jackdaws in other towns and there's a few ravens in the hills.
Around here though the magpies and jays are more common. Magpies are so common that they're really becoming a bit of a pest, preying on songbird eggs. Jays are slowly colonising towns like magpies did but are still a woodland bird.

Magpies:

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Eurasian Jays:

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Siberian Jays:

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We don't get Siberian Jays in Britain, but they're still a nice species
2012 Apr 10 11:35
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Thumbs Up RE: Corvidae: Facts and Photography
In the Company of Ravens

Quote:This gallery includes my experience with a small community of ravens living in the foothills of Kamloops, B.C. Canada. Other raven photographs in this gallery are from the beautiful islands of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia Canada. These are bright and marvelous birds. These were wonder filled experiences. Camera bodies: Canon 1DmkII /30D. Lens used most often: 500 f/4 L with 1.4 tele-converter... Your Votes and comments are welcome :-)

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I like to look at the human self-model as a neurocomputational weapon, a certain data structure that the brain can activate from time to time.

Thomas Metzinger
2012 May 08 20:18
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