TEDTalks: The amazing intelligence of crows

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In this video, Hacker and writer Joshua Klein talks about his fascination with crows. (Notice the gleam of intelligence in their little black eyes?) After a long amateur study of corvid behavior, he's come up with an elegant machine that may form a new bond between animal and human. (2008) [9:47]

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How great it would be if the crows could be trained to pick up the micro trash that is killing California condors.

As a crow lover, I am willing to confess that crows are smarter than humans - at least this human - because after gaining their trust (which took about 4 years) they got me to stop feeding other birds in the park and feed only them. Here we are perhaps 4 years later and they always find me - I never have to worry about wondering where they are - they call to each other something I can only say sounds like "food lady's here," and they have grown partially tolerant of me occasionally cracking a peanut for another species but that's always a surefire way to make sure they show up if I haven't seen them. What do they do in return? They pose for pictures, they call my attention to other birds during migration... I observed one being harrassed by a juvenile Cooper's Hawk two years ago and because I was there, the particular crow reminds me by occasionally fooling me with his Cooper's Hawk call imitation. Crows are so smart I suspect they have somehow deemed me an honorary crow because I seem to get a positive response from crows I have never met. In any event the intimate relationship I have forged with crows over the years enables me to often observe their behavior up close and personal and I find them continually fascinating because of it.

By Lisa Rest (not verified) on 14 May 2009 #permalink

A great presentation, but am not surprised: the TV show, "Animal Planet" some years ago featured a crow which adopted a kitten and even escorted it across a street to keep it from harm.

By Murray Hansen (not verified) on 14 May 2009 #permalink

There were many White-necked Crows on the mission compound where I grew up in Haiti, and they spontaneously imitated human speech. My parrot would call my name, so they also learned it-when I'd ride forth on my horse the tall tree would echo with "Rachel! Rachel Grace" in their wild voices. I felt like royalty.

Instead of just "cawing" they talk in a strange jabbering speech, more like a Raven.

A couple of years ago a missionary said she became annoyed with the racket one particular crow was making in her front yard, so she said, "Oh, hush up!" Immediatelty, the crow repeated, mimicking her voice, "Oh, hush up!" and kept doing so every time she came out of the house.