Crows are one of the most intelligent species of birds living on the planet today. These quick-thinking birds have demonstrated an ability to solve complex puzzles, such as the one set by the BBC’s Chris Packham in this clip from Inside The Animal Mind. Crows have been studied extensively, and have passed many problem-solving tests with flying colors.
However, until now, these tasks have never been put together before to create a multi-task puzzle. So, for example, a crow may have been tested before on an individual puzzle such as one where it is tasked to retrieve food from a tube half filled with water. The crow’s beak is not long enough to reach the food on its own. However, by placing a pile of stones next to the bird, the crow quickly works out that if it places several stones into the tube, it will raise the level of the water and thus be able to reach the food. Crows have passed this test and many others easily, meaning they have the same learning capabilities as a seven year old child.
In this video, Packham sets out to stretch the crow’s puzzle-solving skills to breaking point. For the first time ever, he’s set up a complex, multi-part puzzle which the crow – nicknamed ‘007’ – must solve every part of to retrieve food from a box. The puzzle has eight parts the crow must solve in total. From retrieving a small stick to using it to pull stones from cages, to retrieving a larger stick to fish out the food, the crow must think not only what it needs to do next, but also of what it must do several steps down the line. The crow must think ahead – a sign of higher intelligence not often displayed by animals.
What happens when the crow is unleashed on the puzzle is quite remarkable. It is tests such as these that have led naturalists to gain a greater understanding of these fascinating and highly-intelligent creatures.
‘Bird-brained‘? In the case of 007 here, we don’t think so!