BIRD SOPHISTICATION: Raven Communication


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 15 March 2018

 

BIRD BRAINS?
BIRD SOPHISTICATION

Raven Communication

'Haa haa haa': Raven food calls disclose their age and sex,
BioMed Central, March 12, 2018.

"The majority of previous research on call characteristics in ravens focused on recognition of known individuals. However, to our knowledge, no experiments have tested for features in food calls that might provide ravens with information about unknown individuals."

"Our results suggest that ravens have the necessary variation in their food calls and the cognitive means to distinguish between specific classes of sex and age (class-recognition). Thus, we show for the first time that ravens can potentially use food calls to tell other ravens apart, according to these categories."

 

Crow Nation

The local crows are smart. They travel in groups and break up into sub-groups, with each crow appearing to have both traits in common with the others, and their own unique characters. They know what to expect of each other in dynamic situations, and are not shy about expressing their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their murder-mates.

One of their rendezvous spots near me is along the peaks of the heavy terracotta Spanish tiles making up the ridge and the ample wood gutters along the eaves of the massive house next door. That's maybe thirty feet in a direct line of sight from my desk. Besides being a meeting and safe observation spot, the crows also harvest the insects that live in the gaps between and along the edges of the tiles.

I once watched an old crow train a young crow how to pick those bugs. It was hilarious. The old crow was done with sharing! That stubborn young crow wanted to be fed. The old crow won, and the young crow finally, resentfully, started poking, prodding, and herding its own insects into its mouth!
I like the crows, and my proximity appears to make me what they consider to be a "neutral" part of their environment. Those same crows also frenquent a tree I sit under at another location about a half-mile from the Spanish roof. At the trees a bunch more crows show up than ever do on the roof, making me consider the roof a "neighborhood" type of hang-out for the local gang, while the trees are where the whole "community," where different groups come together to interact. Both spots are quite entertaining, each with its own "tenor," but my favorite crow activity is watching them crack nuts on the streets between cars.

Crows are not only smart, but they know they are intelligent. Maybe I'm predijuced, but pidgeons and seagulls appear to be idiots compared to the crows. The raptors are not as smart as the crows, not nearly as stupid as the gulls and pidgeons. It appears to me a lot of raptor intelligence is, "physical," in that the raptor's brain power is focused towards analyizing speed, trajectory, wind, while anticipating prey movement in the context of a power-dive. That's a certain kind of intelligence. A physical intelligence, tailored to its task.

 

That "tailored to task" approach may help explain the difference between cat & dog brains.

Brain News: Dog vs Cat Brains, Two Different Approaches to Life

 

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