Thursday, 1 December 2011

Another sign of intelligence in ravens

The crow family includes probably the canniest birds outside the parrots. They clearly have a sense of fun. One of my aunts recalled watching a magpie lure a cat out along a slender branch and just as Felix was beginning to be uncertain of his grip start bouncing on it. I have seen a raven tease a cat on the ground and also heard on a radio nature programme a description of ravens in the Brecon Beacons taking advantage of a period of wintry weather by sliding down an icy slope on their backs.

Now it seems that not only do ravens have a caring side, they may also use gestures. This article reports observations of ravens picking up such objects as stones or moss and showing them to a fellow, not always a female. It is a long way short of language, but it does show that attention-seeking is not confined to primates.

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