Intelligence of Crows
A recent news report has drawn my attention to a remarkable story of avian intelligence. A female crow, named Betty, has been demonstrating her intelligence to Oxford researchers, by learning how to make hooks from pieces of wire to use as probes in her search for food. Her ability to bend pieces of wire into a useful tool is quite extraordinary, but not the only example of intelligent crow behaviour. Another crow has been filmed getting food out of a waste bin by systematically hauling the plastic bag towards it, whilst holding each pull with its feet. Just imagine a fisherman hauling in a net and you get the broad idea.
I’m not surprised by the news that birds are highly intelligent, as I personally fear the intelligent malignancy of the many pigeons who hang around my house, like bored teenagers outside an off-licence. There is one particular fat Mafiosi of a pigeon who from his precarious perch on a thin branch of a willow tree, eyes me with undisguised superiority. Most mornings I find that my car has provided a faecal target for the obvious amusement of this pigeon’s flock.
The crow of course would seem to take intelligent use of resources to a new level, but it is one that is not necessarily common. For Betty’s mate Abel, seems not to have mastered her tool making skills and is resigned to grubbing for food without the aid of a bend in the wire. Is Betty an extreme example of greater female intelligence, or is she merely taking delight in watching her mate do things the hard way? A question I feel sure that my pigeon would be able to answer.