Interesting Facts

9 Reasons Crows Are Smarter Than You Think

Crows have the intelligence of a 7-year-old human, making them one of the smartest non-primate animals on the planet. They use tools, have a long-term memory that includes facial recognition, and comprehend analogy.

Crows, ravens, and jays are all members of the Corvidae family of birds. People have marveled at these birds’ intelligence throughout history. They are so intelligent that we might find them creepy. It doesn’t help that a swarm of crows is referred to as a “murder,” that some regard them as forerunners of death, or that the birds are clever enough to steal trinkets and food. How intelligent could a crow be with a brain the size of a human thumb?

1. As Smart as a 7-Year-Old Child

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photo credit: Michael Richards/Getty Images

Although a crow’s brain may appear small in comparison to a human brain, what matters is the brain’s size in relation to the animal’s body size. A crow’s brain is about the same size as a primate’s brain in relation to its body. The Aviation Conservation Lab at the University of Washington’s John Marzluff claims that a crow is essentially a flying monkey. Depending on what you’ve done to the crow (or any of its friends), you might have a friendly monkey or something similar to a fiend from “The Wizard of Oz.”

2. They Recognize Human Faces

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Fernando Trabanco Fotografía/Getty Images

Are crows distinguishable from one another? A crow may be smarter than you in this regard since it can distinguish between specific human faces. Crows were captured by Marzluff’s team, tagged, and then released. Different masks were worn by team members. Only if the person wearing the mask had misbehaved with them would crows dive-bomb and chastise them.

3. They Talk About You to Other Crows

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Photo Credit: Jérémie LeBlond-Fontaine/Getty Images

You’re probably right if you assume that two crows are talking about you while they are cawing at each other while observing you. Even crows that were never captured in Marzluff’s study attacked researchers. The crows’ descriptions of their assailants to other crows. It is difficult to understand crow communication. A possible language seems to be based on the duration, rhythm, and intensity of caws.

4. They Remember What You Did

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Photo Credit: Franz Aberham/Getty Images

It turns out that crows can harbor resentment toward their offspring; in fact, crows harassed masked scientists in later generations.

From Chatham, Ontario, comes another instance of crow memory. On their way north, about 500,000 crows would stop in Chatham, endangering the crops of the local farmers. The town’s mayor declared war on crows, and the hunt got under way. The crows have since avoided Chatham by flying at a height that prevents them from being shot. They continued to leave droppings all over the municipality despite this, though.

5. They Use Tools and Solve Problems

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Crows are the only non-primate species that create new tools, despite the fact that many species use them. Crows will bend wire to make tools, even if they have never encountered wire before, in addition to using sticks as spears and hooks.

A thirsty crow adds stones to a water pitcher in Aesop’s fable “The Crow and the Pitcher” in order to raise the water level so that it can be drunk. The intelligence of crows was put to the test by scientists. They filled a deep tube with a floating treat. In the experiment, the crows dropped substantial objects into the water until the treat floated nearby. They avoided choosing items that would float in the water or that were too big to fit inside the container. Human children gain this understanding of volume displacement around the ages of five to seven.

6. Crows Plan for the Future

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Photo Credit: Paul Williams/Getty Images

Future planning is not just a human trait. For instance, squirrels store nuts for times of scarcity. Crows think about other crows’ perspectives when making plans for the future. A crow checks its surroundings before hiding food to see if anyone is watching it. The crow will pretend to hide its loot but will actually stow it in its feathers if it notices that another animal is watching. The crow then takes off in search of a new hidden location. A crow will not be duped if it observes another crow concealing its prey because it is aware of this little bait-and-switch trick. Instead, it will find its new hoard by following the first crow.

7. They Adapt to New Situations

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Photo Credit: Betsie Van der Meer/Getty Images

Crows have adjusted to living in a world dominated by humans. They observe what we do and pick up tips from us. It has been observed for crows to drop nuts in lanes of traffic in order for passing vehicles to break them open. They even wait for green lights to turn on before retrieving the nut from a crosswalk. By itself, the crow is probably more intelligent than the majority of pedestrians. Crows have been observed memorizing garbage collection days and restaurant hours in order to take advantage of the best scavenging opportunities.

8. They Understand Analogies

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Photo Credit: Chris Stein/Getty Images

Do you recall the SAT test’s “analogy” section? While a crow is unlikely to outperform you on a test of aptitude, they are capable of understanding analogies and other abstract concepts.

Crows were trained to match objects that were alike in terms of color, shape, or number by Ed Wasserman and his Moscow-based team. The birds were then put to the test to see if they could match objects that shared a relationship. A circle and a square, for instance, would be comparable to red and green rather than two oranges. The crows understood the idea for the first time without any prior instruction in the ideas of “same and different.”

9. They Can Outsmart Your Pets (Maybe)

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Photo Credit: Dirk Butenschön/EyeEm/Getty Images

Although they cannot create or use tools, cats and dogs are capable of handling relatively complex problems. You could argue that a crow is more intelligent than Fido and Fluffy in this regard. If you keep a parrot as a pet, it has an intelligence on the same level with that of a crow. However, intelligence is complex and challenging to quantify. Because of their curved beaks, parrots have a harder time using tools. Similar to cats, dogs don’t use tools but have evolved to cooperate with people to meet their needs. Cats have attained such dominance over people that they are now revered. Which species do you believe to be the smartest?

The ability of an animal to solve problems, recall information, and be aware of its surroundings depend as much on its body shape and habitat as it does on its brain, modern scientists have realized, making it practically impossible to apply an intelligence test across species. Crows are extremely intelligent even by the same standards used to assess human intelligence.

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