Birds just do like to have fun. We had a home once on a scant four acres in rural California. The property was roughly triangular with a creek running along two sides. One day during a rather dramatic downpour we stepped onto the deck outside our bedroom to find a duck riding the rapids. She would go so far and then fly back to the place where the creek curved and ride again. She was clearly have a good time. It was just as clear that she was intelligent and inventive.
While ducks are underestimated and often the butt of jokes, crows are known for their intelligence and for the use of tools:
As a group, crows show remarkable examples of intelligence. Crows and ravens often score very highly on intelligence tests. Certain species top the avian IQ scale.Wild hooded crows in Israel have learned to use bread crumbs for bait-fishing.Crows will engage in a kind of mid-air jousting, or air-”chicken” to establish pecking order. Crows have been found to engage in feats such as sports, tool use, the ability to hide and store food across seasons, episodic-like memory, and the ability to use individual experience in predicting the behavior of environmental conspecifics.
One species, the New Caledonian Crow, has also been intensively studied recently because of its ability to manufacture and use its own tools in the day-to-day search for food. These tools include ‘knives’ cut from stiff leaves and stiff stalks of grass.Another skill involves dropping tough nuts into a trafficked street and waiting for a car to crush them open.
On October 5, 2007, researchers from the University of Oxford, England presented data acquired by mounting tiny video cameras on the tails of New Caledonian Crows. It turned out that they use a larger variety of tools than previously known, plucking, smoothing, and bending twigs and grass stems to procure a variety of foodstuffs.
Crows in Queensland, Australia have learned how to eat the toxic cane toad by flipping the cane toad on its back and violently stabbing the throat where the skin is thinner, allowing the crow to access the non-toxic innards; their long beaks ensure that all of the innards can be removed.
Recent research suggests that crows have the ability to recognize one individual human from another by facial feature. MORE [Wikipedia]
Eating crow is a U.S. colloquial idiom meaning humiliation by admitting wrongness or having been proved wrong after taking a strong position.Eating crow is presumably foul-tasting in the same way that being proved wrong might be emotionally hard to swallow.The exact origin of the idiom is unknown, but it probably began with an American story published around 1850 about a slow-witted New York farmer.Eating crow is of a family of idioms having to do with eating and being proved incorrect, such as to “eat dirt”, to “eat your words”, and to “eat your hat” (or shoe). MORE [Wikipedia] … and, of course, we know the part about the New Yorker is untrue. There’s no such thing as a slow-witted New Yorker.
Video uploaded to YouTube by juanstrongman
Gypsy photo courtesy of KarenFayeth, © 2009, 2010, 2011 All rights reserved
Indian crow – courtesy Prianka Bansal via Wikipedia. The photographer has released the photograph into the public domain.