Monday, July 27, 2009

Too hot to blog

It really is, too hot to be inside, too hot to be at a computer.

I'll post a pic I've been sitting on and introduce an area I've been reading up on.

Bird intelligence.

I've been following animal intelligence research for years and more recently digging into the work on the smarty pantses of the bird world, the corvids.

This group includes ravens, crows and jays which have long been recognized as clever. Researchers now understand more about their brains.

The size of the avian brain made it difficult to explain their tool use and problem solving skills. Demonstrated behaviour that measures up there with dolphins and primates on the mammalian line.

What scientists, the mammals that they are, have been looking for is a structure akin to our frontal cortex to explain higher level mental function, but it isn't there.

Just about everything on a bird is built for flight and the brain, like other parts, couldn't get all bulky and still allow birds to get off the ground. So the way they've stored their smarts and where they've stored them is different than other animals. But it has been found.

I've read a lot of Candace Savage's writing on corvids and she says everyone has a crow story. I told this to a friend who paused briefly before saying "I don't have a crow story." Then a few minutes later she proceeded to tell someone else's crow story.

What I'd like to know is how the raptors measure up, especially the osprey.


Anonymous said...

My Crow Story No. 0368: When Lily was a puppy, she used to hang out in the backyard of the hostel A LOT, chasing the crows that sit atop the myriad of wires back there. She would actually try to jump up to catch the birds. If she weren't my clever dog, I would have said that I felt sorry for the stupid animal...
The birds, for their part, would sit on the wires, LAUGHING, taunting her, swooping just low enough to set the dog off and continue the chase, but high enough never to get caught. This not only went on for hours a day, it went on for days a week.
If Lily would tire and appear to slink back near the house, a crow or a few of them, would cajole her back to the game.

Heather Reid said...

Yep, that's how they are.
Clever tricksters.
Poor Lily although she probably loved every minute of it.