From time to time birds would fly into the building and those that survived usually needed some place to recuperate a bit. I became well known in the neighborhood as "the bird boy" for my seemingly miraculous ability to nurse stunned birds back to health...several of the other kids in the neighborhood tried it as well, but they ended up killing all their birds.
For a while I had a pet robin, too young to fly. He had fallen from his nest and was abandoned after that. I took him in and fed and raised him till eventually turning him over to a local animal sanctuary. While I had him, for all that time, I had a friend on my shoulder or head pretty much wherever I went. He knew who my family was and who my friends were, and would stay away from people he didn't know. He knew where I kept his food and the process I had to go through the make it ready for him to eat.
I don't recall ever being pooped on by him, not even once. He'd hold it till I put him in his house, or up on a branch while out playing with my friends. He never bit me, or did anything aggressive towards me. But he'd misbehave with other people he didn't know.
One day, in a well meaning attempt to set him free, my mother dropped me off from school and then dropped my bird off in the woods. I came home and couldn't find him, my mother lied and said that he had flown away (which I knew was patently false). Finally, out of guilt, my mother fessed up and I ran out to the woods where she had dropped him off.
He had waited patiently all day for me and vigorously hopped towards me when he saw me coming, chirping his head off in angry protest. He was shivering and starving and getting him back home, warm and fed was the guiltiest I ever felt.
Not a crow, but definitely a cool experience with wild birds.
He was the terror of the local cats and dogs, but left our two siamese alone because he knew they were part of the family. He'd regularly steal visitor's keys, and hide them in the bush alongside our house purely so he could watch my dad or mum have to hunt for them. He'd play in the sprinkler, and knew the sound of my dad's motorcycle - when he heard my dad coming home in the evenings he would fly down the street and perch on my dad's shoulder for the ride home.
Crows are awesome.
He was super smart, he was able to recognize me he was playful but the thing that most surprised me was that he was really lovable he really liked to be petted and every time I was on my way home from school he would fly down on my shoulder and start to rub my cheeks happy to see me like a dog would.
Like a dog every time I called him within a minute or so he would fly down on my shoulder or arm everywhere from my small town. It was a powerful sensation!
One day that didn't happen. Indeed I was deeply sad. I thought he died ceasing cats or rats.
Around a month later I was driving home while from the windows of my car I started to see several crows flying very close to my car.
I stopped the car when suddenly something like 15/20 crows landed in front of me.
I'm not good in recognize crows especially at night but I suspect my crow found his crew and wanted to let me know he was fine. Maybe a proper goodbye?
I went home with a huge smile, I was a lover of birds, I had several of them, within years I totally stopped to buy them because I think a bird should be free to fly.
They are known to memorize curbside garbage pick up routes of city vehicles and the specific days for each neighborhood, within a city. They are also quick to adapt, given a change in schedule and only visit those specific neighborhoods only on those specific days, from miles away.
Here's a video of crow performing a multi-step tool action test - a test of intelligence - for the first time, without guidance and solving it in the first attempt.
 Crow Intelligence - Multi-Step Tool Action Test
Crow keeps undoing the guys shoe laces so he can steal the frying pan while the guy's doing his shoe laces up. Classic.
On its own shoelaces are interesting. Pulling on the loose end may have started as curiosity.
The person then puts the pan down to tie them. Crow grabs the lace again because, again, curious and playful (birds can be incredibly mischievous), and once again the pan reappears!
Now we're in reinforcement territory.
Now don't get me wrong, the crow learns fast. But it still could be just basic reinforcement of a natural behavior, which is the same technique used to teach various animals "tricks".
But, the act of synthesizing that knowledge, applying that knowledge to a new problem, formulating a plan, and executing it... that really is incredible!
Allegedly, after some time, the two groups of crows have an all out battle over which group gets french fries.
I hope someone saved it!
I was amazed too at how observant they were, keeping a different distance if they noticed I had am umbrella or something in my hand or if I was walking funny.
The magpie is the only bird to pass the mirror test:
Joshua Klein's Crow Machine: https://www.josh.is/crow-machine/
see also: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=470840
It was all lies, then? Or mostly lies?
I told myself a year or two ago that I was going to stop watching TED talks because of their misinformation problems, and this was the first one I had watched since. Fool me once...
Your article is on skinnerian conditioning to train crows to pay for peanuts.
In this article the crows got peanuts whether they gave gifts or not. They just decided to give gifts. No training occured.
Also, how do you explain this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5NuBk5_Izc
- Doris Lessing
Edited: I'm being downvoted, but this was the exact reasoning given to me by a rather devout Christian; and it seemed to make sense. I'm agnostic, btw.
"The humble man approaches wild animals, and the moment they catch sight of him their ferocity is tamed. They come up and cling to him as their Master, wagging their tails and licking his hands and feet. They scent as coming from him the same fragrance that came from Adam before the transgression, the time when they were gathered together before him and he gave them names in Paradise. This scent was taken away from us, but Christ has renewed it and given it back to us at his coming. It is this which has sweetened the fragrance of humanity."
To an Orthodox Christian, restoring the relationship of humanity with animals, which includes that of their expressing intelligence, love, and other such "human-like" traits, is to work towards restoration of our pre-fallen state. The Image of God lies not just in these traits... without going into a deep discussion here, for Orthodox this Image can be seen in the Transfiguration of Christ: that of glorified, deified humanity united with the energy of God.
Some more information is available here: http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/misc/flana...
Lots of Christians, including fairly devout ones, have no problems with recognizing human traits in animals; sometimes, this is in part because of a core theology that distinguishes between traits in the material universe and spiritual essences (cf., Catholic doctrines related to transubstantiation.)
> I'm being downvoted, but this was the exact reasoning given to me by a rather devout Christian
Christians are a rather diverse group, even when it comes to religious beliefs. The explanation given by a rather devout Christian on just about any issue is not particularly likely to be valid as a generalization of Christian belief.
The ancient dharmic traditions (Hindu thought) always said being alive means having a soul. Advanced features such as intelligence are just part of the advanced body, not a litmus test of a soul's presence. The only litmus test is the symptoms of life.
I'm a Gen-Xer, and I think that crow is sledding for fun.
Also, you may want to have a look at The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness that was published for the Francis Crick memorial conference at Cambridge University.
“The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”
I'm just unsure if modern CGI is any more compelling in forming lasting notions of animism than, say, Bambi was.
Belief systems like Shinto are animist, where you think things like rivers and trees and rocks and the different winds are conscious and have souls.
Which is a shame since the opposite is also true, animals can have emotions and intelligence. Just it's doesn't necessarily look the same as humans characteristics.
"DreamWorks Effect" millinials+ sorry but I don't think you could be more wrong.
Disney has being doing this since the 40/50's.
Bambi, Dumbo, Disney nature docos were awful, even David Attenborough who improved the situation vastly is also guilty.
It is at least the post WW2 generation.
The particular bird matching that number, Clark's Nutcracker, looks well studied. This paper discusses them caching 30,000 seeds, but not in 30,000 separate locations, it concludes that they locate at least 1,000 locations by memory:
(that author seems to have done much field work studying the bird)
Another paper estimates that they might cache 90,000 seeds.
At a pedestrian crossing, drop the nuts onto road and wait for it to get run over. Then wait for light to turn red and traffic to stop, then pick up the opened nut.
How many leaps of thought would it take to arrive at such a system? Observing patterns of traffic, understanding the nut is not truly impenetrable but that they are too weak themselves, understanding that pressure/weight greater than they can apply will release the nut from the shell etc. It's incredibly clever!
My uncivilized hooligan former neighbors had a young tree in their yard which they purposely allowed to grow for years right in the foundation of our brick wall. It started casting a shadow in our garden as well. There were no nests in the 20 foot young tree and the property was abandoned and now owned by the bank. So I ran over and cut it down. It was big enough to start cracking the foundation.
Big mistake, I should have worn a disguise. The crows who live in the tree above the one I cut took saw this as vandalism (well it technically was). For 2 weeks they would poop on my car non-stop. Only my car. They knew the PT Cruiser was mine, they shat all over that car. They specifically aimed for the door handle on the driver's side. I have never seen such vengeful birds and such nasty bird crap. It was discussing. They'd carpet bomb it all day, every day, for 2 weeks. I would have about 14 bird crap splatters on the car on any given day. They finally stopped after about 2 weeks.
I should have had a neighbor do it or worn a disguise.
Good starter articles on corvid intelligence are:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982212... Harvey J. Karten. Neocortical Evolution: Neuronal Circuits Arise Independently of Lamination.
Some evidence is that some genes which correlate with cortical layers in mammals show up in these other places in avians.
John Marzluff & Tony Angell: Gifts of the Crow (2012)
The final explanation of why a loving father of four can firebomb a city filled with innocent people blew my mind as a younger man and shaped my worldview.
I think I'll add King Solomon's Ring to my amazon cart now.
Cheers for reminding me of him.
Why wouldn't they put this video in the BBC article?
 - http://www.ted.com/talks/don_tapscott_four_principles_for_th...
There's signs up at some Indian public markets forbidding vendors taking payment from monkeys as they watched humans exchange cash for fruit and became pickpockets. No gifts though except a huge tip when handing over piles of notes for one bunch of bananas.
I mean, primates give gifts to each other and humans, and my cat loves nothing more than to leave the most succulent bits of viscera of whatever her prey was for me on Persian rugs, for me to enjoy, by which I mean tread on while heading to the shower in the morning.
Bird brains are very different from mammal brains; they don't have a neocortex. So it's very interesting that they have developed similar gift-giving behavior to mammals and primates.
No ethics or deep reasoning required. Random rewards lead to irrational behavior.
Crows / Ravens are the only creature aside from Humans who perform meta-tool use. They can use tools to grab tools to accomplish a goal. In many ways, they're smarter than (non-human) primates, and are probably the 2nd smartest animals on earth.
Birds in general are pretty smart (see Pidgeons, Parrots, etc. etc.) However crows / ravens are on a completely different intelligence level. Crows break nuts by dropping them on the asphalt... timing their drops during red lights so that traffic doesn't hit them.
Besides, gift-giving is seen in far dumber animals than crows. Dogs, Cats, Penguins... they don't have the intelligence of Crows but they understand gifts and social situations.
Crows are awesome though, I'm not trying to put down their intelligence, haha. I just wanted to point out that neither deeper reasoning nor ethics is required to explain this phenomenon. One of the researchers in the article said that he had never experienced the gift giving, even though he also fed crows often. That to me makes it more sensible to believe that it's just a meme that developed by chance
But crow gifts are not guaranteed. "I can't say they always will (give presents)," Marzluff admits, having never received any gifts personally, "but I have seen an awful lot of things crows have brought people.
I think the article (and probably the podcast? haven't listened yet) make too big a deal of this. We don't know that the crows realized that the lens cap belonged to those people. Perhaps they just saw it as another neat thing to gift. Perhaps they smelled the family on it, and just returned it to a place that smelled similarly.
For many birds though, it's nowhere as good as their hearing or eyesight.
Can you do that?
Maybe not, but then, humans have a pretty poor sense of smell compared to lots of other animals.
Addendum: Other man says this is random. Sun believer says don't insult my problem solver. Other man persists. Sun believer kills him.
So, to be clear, you're positing an alternative theory wherein one or more crows learn a behaviour, and teach that behaviour to other crows, who learn this complex concept and repeat the feat while they, too, pass it on.
And you think that's no big deal? :)
It doesn't have to actively teach the other crows for them to catch on
Kind of painfull that you link to Skinner's (pretty much) only ill-done research; See J.E.R. Staddon for a nice refutation of 'the superstition in the pigeon' experiment.
We ignore birds and octopus.
Can I prove it--no! I just never bought those philosophy/psychology
instructors who really tried to teach me animals don't think.
The older I get the more humans look like apes. I think my
decline in testosterone is playing a part in the way I look
at the world? The mystery of it all is fading--sadly--in humans and humanity. But the animal world is more fascinating than ever!
I am happily waiting for the first mammal to speak it's mind! I wish I could be around when it happens.
Humans tend to be occupied in neurosis, and subterfuge, more than anything else.
While other species are largely occupied with 'Nous'...and thus, would be far more elegant in their mental process and decision making and overall ontological 'poise', than people generally are.
b.) it seems like the bbc witnessed the gift-giving
Supposed to be lucky - not sure for me or the pigeon though!