This is Ligonier's friendly neighborhood blog and an attempt to recapture our lively opinionated debates in a free speech zone.

Please join our conversations. Contributors welcome.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Crows are a lot like we are...

"(Vicki Croke) know(s) that crows certainly seem to display “cultural” differences between populations. And Marzluff and others have written at length about how amazing these birds are. They score as high as primates in some intelligence tests. They fashion and use tools. Crows in captivity will figure out how to fill a cup with water to moisten their food, or bend wire into a hook to lift a tiny bucket. In the wild they’ll bring dry bread to a birdbath to soak and soften it. They may stack scattered crackers into a pile so they can carry the whole pile away. And in Japan, they place walnuts in front of stopped cars in an intersection and wait for the cars to go forward and crush the nuts. Then they swoop in and safely retrieve the nut meats. They recognize individual human faces. They can mimic human voices. They’re very social and they are terrific problem solvers. [...]

They’re noisy, smart, and social. They’re omnivores and opportunists. They mate for life. They can live in large extended families with the kids helping out around the nest. Young crows who have left for years will be recognized and welcomed back to the family. They have extensive vocalizations and vocabularies. Kevin McGowan talks about what he calls crow “family values”—when we hear them cawing—they’re communicating to each other—often helping save one another from danger, an owl for instance. And they’ve been observed feeding injured adult crows in their family. “They have great family values,” McGowan says. “They do neighborhood watch. They help each other out. They are everything almost that you would want from a moral animal as we see it. They really do pay attention to the threats that are occurring to other crows. They are very interested in working together to make the world a safer place for other crows. It’s kind of just the way they are."

For more crow stories: