are crows the smartest birds

For Mathias Osvath, an associate professor of cognitive science at Lund University in Sweden, who was not involved in the new paper, its findings fit into a long line of studies indicating that birds possess many of the same cognitive skills as primates. “To me, this just adds to the catalog of amazing data showing that birds have been completely misunderstood,” Osvath says. “Saying that mammals took over the world cognitively is just simply wrong.”

Recursion is a key feature of language. It enables us to build elaborate sentences from simple ones. Take the sentence “The mouse the cat chased ran.” Here the clause “the cat chased” is enclosed within the clause “the mouse ran.” For decades, psychologists thought that recursion was a trait of humans alone. Some considered it the key feature that set human language apart from other forms of communication between animals. But questions about that assumption persisted. “There’s always been interest in whether or not nonhuman animals can also grasp recursive sequences,” says Diana Liao, a postdoctoral researcher at the lab of Andreas Nieder, a professor of animal physiology at the University of Tübingen in Germany.

According to Liao, the fact that birds—whose ancestors on the branching evolutionary tree of life diverged from those of primates long ago—also seem to be able to parse and generate recursive sequences suggests that this ability is “evolutionary ancient” or that it evolved independently as a result of convergent evolution. Liao continues, “This observation implies that the latter brain architecture may not be necessary for displaying this cognitive ability in birds because their brains lack the layered neocortex of primates.”

When the 2020 study on recursive capacities in humans and monkeys was published, some experts remained unconvinced that the monkeys understood recursion. Instead, some argued, the animals chose the recursive sequences by learning the order in which the brackets were displayed. For example, if the training sequence was [ ( ) ], and the monkeys were later shown a different pairing, such as ( ) and { }, they would first pick a bracket they recognized from training, then pick the new bracket pair they had never seen before. Finally, they would pick the matching bracket from the training session at the end of the sequence (because they had learned that the matching bracket comes at the end).

In a study of monkeys and human adults and children published in 2020, a group of researchers reported that the ability to produce recursive sequences may not actually be unique to our species after all. Both humans and monkeys were shown a display with two pairs of bracket symbols that appeared in a random order. The subjects were trained to touch them in the order of a “center-embedded” recursive sequence such as { ( ) } or ( { } ). After giving the right answer, humans received verbal feedback, and monkeys were given a small amount of food or juice as a reward. Afterward the researchers presented their subjects with a completely new set of brackets and observed how often they arranged them in a recursive manner. Two of the three monkeys in the experiment generated recursive sequences more often than nonrecursive sequences such as { ( } ), although they needed an additional training session to do so. One of the animals generated recursive sequences in around half of the trials. Three- to four-year-old children, by comparison, formed recursive sequences in approximately 40 percent of the trials.

They appear to understand that each person is unique and that they should approach them in a different way. It’s common knowledge that New Caledonian crows use sticks to retrieve prey from their hiding places, but it turns out that these tool-making birds are even smarter than we imagined. However, a recent study indicates that crows are improving those sticks into more useful tools. In order to better reach their prey, these crows have developed the habit of carving a hook into the end of twigs. The birds were used by scientists to test the distinction between a straight and a hooked twig. They discovered that the straight tool is only about ten times as effective as the hooked twig. Crows are not only refining and enhancing their previous designs, but they may also be imparting their knowledge to other crows.

“Being able to fly to Argentina, come back, and land in the same bush—we don’t value that intelligence in a lot of other organisms,” says Kevin McGowan, an expert on crows at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. “We’ve restricted the playing field to things we think only we can do.”

FAQ

Which bird has highest IQ?

Neuroscientists from the university of Alberta have identified parrots as the most intelligent bird. A few years ago, scientists from Charles University in Prague had found that birds have higher intellect when compared with animals and mammals.

Why are crows the most intelligent bird?

Crows are often regarded as being more intelligent than other birds due to their advanced problem-solving abilities, tool-making skills, and social behavior. One reason for their intelligence may be their relatively large brain size in proportion to their body size.

Are crows more intelligent than dogs?

Crows display remarkable problem-solving abilities and tool use, rivaling the intelligence of dogs, which are known for their trainability and social intelligence.

Who is smarter raven or crow?

Both of these birds are extremely intelligent (though ravens seem a bit smarter than crows) and are quite playful. Ravens have at least 7 different calls and can imitate the calls of other birds (geese, jays, crows). They also use stunt flying to attract mates (barrel-rolling, flying upside-down, and somersaults).