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Are Parrots the Only Intelligent Birds?

When thinking about intelligent birds, parrots generally come to mind. Parrots are indeed smart. Scientists have found that a parrot can think like a four-year-old child and use logical reasoning. Parrots are not the only intelligent birds, however. In fact, birds belonging to the Corvidae family, such as crows, are the smartest birds in the world. Crows are so smart that they can count and may even be more intelligent than apes. Studies have shown that crows can reason in ways that not even apes can.

It is believed that social animals have large brains and are also more intelligent. Crows are social; they live in groups and have large brains compared to their body size. Although their brain structures are not similar to ape brains, crows display complex thought processes like apes and they can use analogical reasoning to solve problems.

In studies done by a team at Auckland University, scientists observed that crows can not only reason to solve a complex problem, but can also form generalizations from their experiences to solve similar problems. Scientists have carried out similar studies with apes and saw that apes were not able to transfer their knowledge to other problems. This may mean that in some ways, crows have a cognitive level not unlike human reasoning.

In an experiment at Cambridge University, scientists placed a tube with only a little water in it near the crow subjects. The crows dropped stones into the tube and raised the water level in order to drink. This displacement experiment showed that crows have causal reasoning. Other studies have shown that birds in the Corvidae family can see the world from another bird's point of view and have the ability to plan ahead.

More about birds in the Corvidae family:

  • There are about 126 species of Corvidae, distributed on all continents except for Antarctica.
  • Ravens belong to the Corvidae family and are cooperative hunters. One raven will distract a bird parent so that another raven can grab the egg.
  • Jackdaws are a curious bird group of the Corvidae family. In England, they have been known to remove the caps from milk bottles so that they can drink the milk inside.
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