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Whole Lotta Crow, Whole Lotta Awesome

May 3, 2012

Watched an excellent epi of PBS’ Nature</a series on crows last night. Here's the show's summary narrative of it, found on their site:

Although cultures around the world may regard the crow as a scavenger, bad omen, or simply a nuisance, this bad reputation might overshadow what could be regarded as the crow’s most striking characteristic – its intelligence. New research indicates that crows are among the brightest animals in the world. NATURE’s A Murder of Crows brings you these so-called feathered apes, as you have never seen them before. Buy the DVD. This film premiered October 24, 2010.

As I sit out back imitating a curved-bill thrasher perform his mating call, I’m beyond convinced that I’ve become a birder. I’m at least becoming less bothered by the term. Ambivalent birder, no más!

Anyway, the epi was incredible, esp for a budding birder as myself. A budding birder (?). What the shit, ‘mane*. Lol. Crows are incredible. Even though they have a relatively small sized brain, they’re the third most intelligent animal in the animal kingdom, along with humans and primates, for a few different reasons. They’re extremely adaptable, and when you find that trait in any organism from microbes to bees, you usually have a good chance at success. Adaptation is resilient. It perserveres. Crows have learned how to crack a nut, literally, by flying at just the right velocity and height from the ground and dropping it. They showed the crows doing it, and perfect. The nut cracks and they’re right behind it like a jet landing and scoop it up before anyone or thing else can snag it. And cars. The crows have actually figured out that the best time to do it is during a red light, hence sans cars.

And they’re very communicative. Creative researchers at the University of Washington (U-Dub!), in Seattle, devised a novel experiment that guaged a few different things that would aid understanding our black-feathered friends.

They wore masks, pretty gnarly, Halloween types, and walked around campus where they knew crows were located and observed their facial recognition. Not only did the crows recognize the masked men, but they then share whatever knowledge they deem fit with the rest of the surrounding family, friend, and flock. To add a wrinkle, the research team observed baby crows that were in the nest during the facial recognition experiment, to see if the parents actually communicated facial knowledge, etc., to such young, undeveloped crowlets(?), but developing nontheless. They did.

I haven’t got to a lot of other stuff in the episode, but maybe I’ll get a chance to give it some breath sooner rather than later.

Gotst to go.

*And yes I did use ‘mane’, the term that lil Wayne and team Ca$h Money popularized in the last decade, or so, straight outta Hollis Grove, New Orleans, LA. And if ya don’t know, now ya know. PBS and Ca$h Money are so about opposites attracting, right? Lol. How we do…

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