Crows and tools: Calling someone a birdbrain can be a compliment
Young crows learn to make tools in 'tool school'
Published on October 26, 2010
When someone tells me that I'm acting like an animal I often say "thanks a lot"
because many animals are cooperative, fair-minded, compassionate, and empathic
beings. (see also) Individuals of any different species perform amazing
cognitive tasks and the list keeps growing and growing. Recently it was
discovered that bees are better than computers in solving certain problems and
now we know that New Caledonian crows, who are renowned for their ability to
make and use complex tools, teach youngsters to make tools in what are called
"tool schools". These crows are renowned for making the most complex tools in
the animal kingdom except for humans.
Caledonian crows are highly intelligent and live in small family groups and this
provides the opportunity for youngsters to fashion and use tools by watching
adults perform these activities. Researchers from the University of Auckland
disovered that parents actually take their young to specific sites when they can
practice these skills and that "crows develop their tool-using abilities by
'keeping it in the family'". The youngsters may also learn from their parents
So, the next time someone says "Oh, you're a birdbrain" you can say "thanks" and
walk away with your head held high.