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CNET Australia Podcast

Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Watch a wild crow tackle a complex eight-step puzzle

About The Author

CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Credit: Crow image by Sudarshan V, CC BY 2.0)

A BBC Two program about animal intelligence has once again demonstrated the incredible power of the corvid mind.

We love crows. Crows are amazingly smart, smarter than all other birds and even most other animals. If you think that's an exaggeration, it's not. Crows use tools, and even save good ones for future use; know how to use their environments, such as human car traffic, to help get food; recognise human faces across generations, remembering humans who have done them either harm or good and reacting accordingly; and are the only bird to have passed the mirror recognition test.

Apparently, they're also really clever complex problem solvers. Dr Alex Taylor, who appeared on BBC Two program Inside the Animal Mind hosted by Chris Packham, has been studying wild crows, capturing one bird at a time and keeping it for three months, putting it through a series of tests.

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

The test below is the most difficult crow test devised to date. It consists of eight distinct steps that the bird, nicknamed 007, has to complete in a specific order to get to the food, collecting tools from difficult-to-reach locations, and using them in a variety of ways to finally get to the piece of meat. 007 is familiar with each of the items, but has never before had to put them together and use them in this way.

Read some more cool crow facts here.

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CrystalW posted a comment   

NOT the only bird to pass the mirror test. Magpies do too. The Australian variety will also facially recognise all the local inhabitants of their territory (and again, react accordingly) and I'm pretty sure they've been seen using tools.


GlenH2 posted a comment   

So some one calls you bird brain say thanks....not may Humans could work that out


MontanaG posted a comment   

If it is a wild crow, why then does it have bands around its legs? Or is it just for identification purposes only?


BoL posted a reply   

It says he captures them in the wild and keeps them for 3 months, keeping one on hand at a time. My guess is that he films the crows as he's studying them and uses the colored bands to help distinguish between different crows in different video clips so as to not confuse results.


JefferyR posted a comment   

Neat to think this is a wild bird.

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