Murder of Crows Court Simianlike Smarts


So much has been said about crows, in the way of ‘knowledge’, that often myth, folklore and science all blend to a point where one is hard pressed to be distinguished from another.

Let’s mark this interesting article down for science:

Called “feathered apes” for their simianlike smarts, crows use tools, understand physics, and recognize themselves and humans. But new research suggests that the brainy birds may be even smarter than was previously thought. Given a complex problem and an assortment of tools, New Caledonian crows came up with a creative solution that hints at higher-order thinking.

A native of New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands in the Pacific Ocean, the New Caledonian crow makes tools from sticks or leaves and uses these to draw tasty grubs from hollows in trees. That in itself wouldn’t be so impressive—even some insects use tools this way—but the crows also combine tools when they needed to. In a 2007 experiment conducted by graduate student Alex Taylor and colleagues at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, the crows used a shorter stick to grab another that was long enough to get food outside their reach.

And just because I am a lover of such things, you know I had to find a fun bit of folklore for your imagination to play a bit with:

A. Hyatt Verrill (1938) wrote ‘Strange Birds and their Stories’, published by George G Harrap & Co. Ltd. He relates that crows and rooks hold regular court trials. The crows seem to have regular circuit courts and when an offender is to be tried, they gather in great numbers at a secluded spot, often on a hilltop, as if summoned to serve as jurors on the case. Usually two or more crows are stationed at vantage points on tall trees near at hand, to serve as keepers or sentries. One naturalist said that when he was detected, the indignant crows instantly adjourned court and hurled upon the sentries and tore them to pieces as a penalty for their carelessness in allowing a person to draw near. At crow courts, the prisoner stands alone in the centre of a circle of a circle of its fellows. The assembled crows discuss the case, becoming more excited. At times, an individual outcaws the others and, like a prosecuting attorney or a lawyer for the defence, argues and orates, until the prisoner is found guilty and the court passes sentence. The judge, jury and lawyers unite in inflicting the death penalty on the spot.

3 comments on “Murder of Crows Court Simianlike Smarts

  1. Wow , What a story . I would like to believe in this because it is such a
    imaginative explanation of the animal behavior. Possibility of projecting our own behavior have to be counted in . For all we know the crows can say look at this strange white birds that only walk . Why they dont fly ?
    Where are their feathers ?
    And then they observe our behavior .

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