Other Animals
crow, American crow, black bird
Photo by Tyler Moulton on Unsplash

Our worldview often depends heavily on a “set apart” reality. For parrots and other exotic birds, it’s their varied colorful appearances, and their ability to mimic human speech that easily captures our attention. The more common birds, especially those that are of a single color that could be described as nondescript, often get the cold shoulder from the masses.

One of those birds is the crow. The American crow is found in much of the North American landscape and is a large bird. And yet, American crows are quite the smart ones. They have been found to be able to design, create, and store tools that help in problem areas and are also thought to be numbers proficient. Wait, those are human traits, right? Well, we’re finding out birds have incredible abilities that we never thought possible for them. This is why ongoing bird studies are so important.

Crows Know Their Sequences

Science is now discovering an interesting feature of bird understanding. The crow is now thought to be capable of recursion. Recursion is an application of intelligence, logic, and understanding found primarily in the human species. It is used in language, mathematics, music, and even within programming subsets. But after a 2020 study, it was found that rhesus macaque monkeys can be trained in recursive usage whereby elements can be paired within the formation of other similar elements. The monkeys were then rewarded for effective pairing and placement of brackets. It was found that two of the three monkeys in the trial performed correctly in an impressive 26% of the procedures thus producing near the mental capacity of 4–5-year-old humans. This was previously reported in Science Advances. Based on this study, Dr. Diana Liao opted to test crows for this potential skill.

Two crows were trained for the new study to peck pairs of bracket sequences within a central sequence. The crows were then tested to see if they could generate similar recursive sequences using a different set of pairs, like { [ ] },  in various pairings. What was discovered was that the crows could pair sequences within sequences recursively at about a 40% rate – much more skillful and efficient than the monkeys. The monkeys also required more training whereby the crows did not. The crows, as were the monkeys, were on a cognitive par with 4–5-year-old humans, – pre-school toddlers. The results of this newer study can be found in Science Advances (here).

Why Crows Pair Sequences

A question was formed from the results of the studies in that while the crows (and monkeys) were able to perform such a human-centric feat, what could possibly be the reason for the ability? While it is eye-opening that non-human creatures can use such skills, it is thought to be potentially indicative of use for other things. One of the thoughts is that recursion can possibly be used within relational pairings within their groupings. But science learning about bird intelligence is at the beginning of its quest. What science is learning now will form the basis of more advanced studies in the future. As more studies are performed, we will come to a fuller understanding of the potential of creature communication.

Another incredible 2020 study unearthed a truth that the crow (Corvid) species are self-aware, a primarily human and primate trait in which one can ponder things in their mind. The full breakdown of this amazing and rare feature would require a new article but can be further investigated here.

Birds just seem to be more advanced than other creatures as we dive into the rabbit hole of knowledge surrounding these magnificent, feathered beings. We may one day be able to actively communicate with them efficiently and with better precision. This study hints at logic within the mind of crows, and likely other birds.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

WCN Joins Dr. Jane Goodall on KQED’s Forum
Cat Puzzle: Find Ginger Cat Words in this Printable Grid
Autumn Pet Safety: Avoid These Poisonous Plants to Keep Your Pet Safe
Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Cat: 4 Reasons to Do It
Pawsitively Purr-fect: Dog and Cat Birthdays Outshine Baby Showers and Gender Reveals!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *