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Those Darned Clever Crows

Crows using traffic to crack a walnut

Humans outsmarted by clever rooks
(Vid shows two crows cooperating to get a treat)

Bird brains: Public asked to look out for clever rooks

The crow population has exploded here in Seattle over the past five years.   A flock of crows is called (appropriately) a ‘murder’.   In the past three years we no longer hear songbirds to wake us in the morning, something that maybe most people haven’t noticed, but I sure have.   We used to hear baby raptor calls (eaglets, falcons) in our tall trees during the day, but no longer.

A study was done about a year ago by the University of Washington which found that these crows can actually recognize faces!   They remember who is friendly and who is not.   When I lived at the cabin on 123rd street the crows in the trees would disburse when they heard the *click*click* of my pellet gun.   One day one decided to stay in the very top of my Rainier Cherry tree, so I aimed as best I could with this wildly inaccurate pistol, and shot. {thunk} it fell all the way to the ground in front of me, shot in the heart!   ‘Killed Bambi’?   Eh no, the Ted Bundy of the bird world…

I’ve read that they nest as massive groups in some specific area around here.   This Spring I’ve noticed a large decline in their numbers, so either they’re going someplace else (which I doubt), or someone is poisoning them as I’ve heard rumors of.   Just as well;   they’ve done massive damage to our wildlife diversity.

Here is a great video of a crow solving 8 tasks in a row…

lol, I know alot of humans who couldn’t solve that without force.

I’ve often wondered why an elephant or a whale, with such massive brains compared with ours, are not so much smarter?   Recently I saw an answer in a PBS documentary.   It’s down to the density of neurons, and the speed at which they work.   Our neurons are much more dense, and they act far faster than larger mammals.   This accounts for why some women who have a brain case half the size of some men, can be brighter.

In nature, an elephant doesn’t need lightning-fast responses, and so hasn’t evolved them.   A 20 watt human brain is extremely expensive in terms of resources (extended childhood, glucose, oxygen), and also our brains are at just about the limit of what can fit through a woman’s pelvis.

It’s said that we only use about 20% of our processing power, but that’s been recently disproved…   we use about 10-20% at any given time, but call on different mental resources at different times.   I noticed recently when I was setting up the Xen hypervisor for a computer, that I was concentrating so much over the course of those days that my head was hot and stayed so over hours.   (altho maybe some of that was frustration…)

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