Corvid expert John Marzluff scans crows’ brains to crack the mystery of what makes these smart birds so successful.
Editor's Note: Members of the crow family, known as the corvids, are among the smartest birds in the world. Some are capable of using tools, playing tricks, teaching each other new things, even holding “funerals.” And yet there’s still much we don’t know about these fascinating, sometimes confounding creatures. What’s going on inside the mind of a corvid? Three leading scientists are finding answers.
The crows in your neighborhood know your block better than you do. They know the garbage truck routes. They know which kids drop animal crackers and which ones throw rocks. They know the pet dogs, and they might even play with the friendly ones. If you feed them, they probably not only recognize you but your car as well, and they might just leave you trinkets in return. These birds live their lives intertwined with ours, carefully observing us even as most of us barely take note of them. That’s how they survive, and they’re good at it: In recent decades the American Crow has taken over our suburbs, and even moved into the hearts of our big cities. As we’ve reshaped the landscape, we’ve created an ideal environment for an animal that is canny and perceptive enough to exploit our riches.
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