SEP 03, 2016 8:02 AM PDT

The Frighteningly Smart Things Crows Can Do

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Long regarded as omens of death and bearers of bad news, crows have regained the spotlight in recent years for some positive attributes for a change. In particular, crows are proving to be much more intelligent than we can imagine. Some feats actually have scientists floored!

A crow's brain is the size of a thumb. Though that sounds small, it's actually pretty impressive given the size of its body. And this ‘bird brain' can do a lot. Scientists have documented facial recognition in crows, as well as some form of communication among the entire flock. In addition, crows demonstrate keen abilities to use tools. For example, they know which stones to use to displace water to get at food. They're also the only non-human animals to use curved tools.

But the topper on crows' intelligence may be those in Japan that can seemingly strategize for food. Specifically, the crows here have been observed to drop hard-to-break nuts directly in a car's path so that the tires can crack open the food. Then, once the traffic is stopped at red lights, the crows swoop down and collect their tasty reward at minimal effort. This frighteningly smart act redefines exactly what it means to have a "bird brain."
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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