Ultimate Problem Solving by a Crow

By Anupum Pant


I know I wrote about how smart crows can be a few days back, but even when I wasn’t particularly searching for amazing crow videos, I happened to stumble upon an astounding video of a crow solving some puzzle. I was so blown away by this, that I couldn’t resist sharing another crow post in under two weeks. Hold your hats because this crow, nicknamed 007 will blow them off your heads.

Side note: Want to see a chimpanzee blow your mind? Watch him do a task that more than 95% of the humans wouldn’t be able to do as well as he can do it. – [Working Memory – Chimpanzees vs. Humans]

Alex studies wild birds which he releases after 3 months of research. This one is nicknamed 007 and it is about to attempt what Alex believes is one of the most complex tests for the animal mind ever constructed. The bird is familiar with the individual objects, but this is the first time he is seeing them arranged like this.

This video comes from a BBC show called ‘Inside the Animal Mind‘ hosted by Chris Packham. [Video]

In the video, a wild crow, previously not having learnt anything about the 8-part arrangement of the puzzle, manages to solve it with ease. I would have taken some time to figure out the solution.

8-Part sequence

  1. The crow pulls out a small piece of stick from a thread.
  2. It then approaches a box containing a piece of food and figures that it would need a longer stick to get it. It moves on with the smaller stick to take a stone out of another box.
  3. Takes out another stone
  4. And one more
  5. Drops one of the three stones in a box which needs the weight of all three to release a longer stick.
  6. Drops the second.
  7. And the third. The longer stick is released. It takes the long stick.
  8. Finally, the crow uses the longer stick to pull out food from the box mentioned in second point.

How I try to believe it

Although when I say that the crow wasn’t aware of the arrangement, I mean to say that it wasn’t aware of the sequence in which the puzzle was meant to be solved. It seems as if it was trained with the individual tasks.

I’m guessing that the crow was trained for some time to complete the individual tasks separately and not in a particular sequence. The 8-part sequence was probably shown to it for the first time. I may be wrong. But, I think when the speaker says, “The bird is familiar with the individual objects“, my interpretation makes sense.

If I’m wrong, I yield and state that crows are just too intelligent and are going to take over the world in a few hundred years.

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These Intelligent Crows Will Make You Smile

By Anupum Pant


One interesting thing to note about crows is the size of their brains. Among all the bird species, crows have the largest brain to body ratio.
Besides that, the anatomy of their brain is a lot similar to our own brains. The forebrain which is responsible for the intelligence of an organism, is highly developed in crows. This makes them very adaptable. They are able to easily adjust and learn things as per the changing situations.

Although crows aren’t adored, probably because of the annoying sounds they make, their amazing feats of dexterity are bound to elicit an awe. May be valporate can help them with the voice.

Notably, crows are found living with human beings and are known to exploit us to get their work done. Only in rare cases are crows found to be living very away from human settlements. Joshua Klein, in a TED talk, shares a couple of anecdotes about how good crows can be at problem solving. One of them was as follows:

Crows and Hooks

Crows are normally seen holding sticks in the beaks to take food out of narrow holes in the wild. When one crow in a laboratory was given a piece of hard wire to draw a piece of meat from inside of a narrow tube, it wasn’t working very well for it. The crow, despite never having learned any related trick beforehand, found a solution for the problem completely on its own.

Solution: It used the surroundings to bend the wire to make a hook out of it; then simply put it in the tube to use the hook to retrieve meat!

But that is just a warm up of kinds of problem solving crows can handle. Here is another one.

Amazing Problem Solving Crows

In the suburbs of Tokyo, where crows often came across a kind of nut they were not able to dig into, because of its hard shell, they found an extremely intelligent way to deal with it. They dropped it on the roads for the vehicles to break the nuts for them! That was not all…

While doing this, they were faced with another problem – As cars, passed by at high speeds, it was risky for them to get back the nuts. Crows found a solution for that too. I’m not that smart. I bet I could have never thought of that.

Solution: They dropped it on the zebra crossing. As the cars stopped for the humans to cross, crows walked behind humans to get back their broken nuts safely. Interestingly, some crows who had devised this technique taught it to all the crows in the surrounding areas. Now all of the suburban crows around Tokyo know the trick.

If you liked this, you’ll definitely love ants and their amazing counting skills.