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Monday, February 1, 2021

Teacher Tom: Bird Brains

Teacher Tom: Bird Brains
Bird Brains

Yesterday, a pair of crows drove our dog crazy by play fighting outside our living room window. At first I thought it was an actual fight, and maybe it was (I have no idea what was in their hearts) but after awhile it was hard to see it as anything other than a bit of rough housing, especially when they finished by flying off together, wingtip to wingtip to perch side-by-side on a tree branch where they proceeded to casually preen their feathers.

Crows, they tell us, are one of the animal kingdom's most intelligent creatures, certainly at the top of the heap when it comes to birds. They belong to a family of birds called corvids that includes ravens, rooks, and jays. Scientists use things like their ability to solve problems, make tools, and their ability to anticipate future events as evidence of this intelligence. Crows even seem to possess a "theory of mind," which is to say they consider other individuals' states of mind. They actually make customized tools. They  understand causality, can reason, count up to five and it's said they remember individual human faces, so if you're mean to a crow, they'll know to avoid or dive bomb you when next you meet. They're so smart they outperform apes in some tests of intelligence. This has lead some scientists to assert that crows are second only to humans.

These are all criteria we use to determine human intelligence CONTINUE READING: Teacher Tom: Bird Brains