PBS has released a full episode from Nature called “A Murder of Crows” to the internet. You can watch it right now — for free.
New caledonian crows are very special creatures in that despite their small brains can recognize individual human faces consistently, transmit some level of culture, and even use and make tools.
Making tools is exceptionally rare in animals and for the most part has only been identified among three species of animals: elephants, chimpanzees, and new caledonian crows.
Interesting tidbits from the video:
- New caledonian crows have two “dialects” of language: One which is loud and for the general crow community, and one more quiet version for use amongst the family unit.
- New caledonian crows spend up to five years with their parents — one of the longest natal periods among bird species.
- New caledonian crows eat a very varied diet, which means they must know both how to manipulate various foods, but also what foods are safe.
- New caledonian crows have been seen dropping hard nuts onto popular roadways, waiting for the oncoming traffic to crack them, and then flying down to pick up the remnants when traffic is cleared.
- They possess the capacity for a unique form of tool use known as meta-tool use. Meta-tool use is essentially using tools to make other tools.
Other pages floating on the internet that you might find appealing:
- Documentation on Joshua Klein’s crow vending machine.
- Joshua Klein talking about the intelligence of crows at TED.
- An article written by Thomas Bugnyar, biologist focusing on theory of mind in new caledonian crows at Konrad Lorenz Institute in Grunau, Austria who was interviewed in “A Murder of Crows”: Ravens Console Each Other After Fights
- Crow Friendship