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Fri Jan 13, 2012, 05:59 PM

Science Can Neither Explain Nor Deny the Awesomeness of This Sledding Crow

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/01/science-can-neither-explain-nor-deny-the-awesomeness-of-this-sledding-crow/251395/



Before we talk, you need to watch the video above. It's just one minute and 24 seconds. You'll observe a crow (probably a 'hooded crow') pick up the lid to a jar, set it down on the apex of a snow-mottled roof and slide down one side, carefully keeping its feet on the lid until it gets to the bottom. Then it picks up the lid, flies back to the apex, tests out another face of the roof, finds it lacking, returns to the original position, and slides down again.

It is a remarkable demonstration of the intelligence of the crow, which sits on a smart branch in the animal tree within the family Corvidae. There is something so deliberate about this play: the crow uses a toy; it searches for the best sledding path; it repeats the adventure down the roof; it keeps upright with its feet planted on the lid when, as a bird, it could simply fly. The bird does not want to travel down the roof, it wants to slide down the roof.

I wanted to know if there was a greater significance to this video and this amazing bird. So, I called up Alan Kamil, who has been studying corvids for decades and is co-director of the Center for Avian Intelligence at the University of Nebraska. I've got to send you this YouTube clip of this crow sledding down a roof in Russia, I told him.

Across the phone line, I heard Kamil gamely open his email and begin to watch the video. Like most people who watch the video, he chuckled and said, "Wow, this is cool," a proposition to which I assented.



*** GASP -- animals can have FUN -- and they can even invent ways to have fun. who'd a thunk?

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Reply Science Can Neither Explain Nor Deny the Awesomeness of This Sledding Crow (Original post)
xchrom Jan 2012 OP
Turn CO Blue Jan 2012 #1
xchrom Jan 2012 #2
stockholmer Jan 2012 #3
applegrove Jan 2012 #4
Robb Jan 2012 #5
Still Blue in PDX Jan 2012 #9
tularetom Jan 2012 #6
snagglepuss Jan 2012 #10
wakemewhenitsover Jan 2012 #34
Marnie Jan 2012 #14
PETRUS Jan 2012 #7
Warpy Jan 2012 #8
handmade34 Jan 2012 #11
90-percent Jan 2012 #12
Marnie Jan 2012 #13
stevedeshazer Jan 2012 #15
BrendaBrick Jan 2012 #23
shraby Jan 2012 #16
eShirl Jan 2012 #17
progressoid Jan 2012 #33
Poll_Blind Jan 2012 #18
FLyellowdog Jan 2012 #19
roguevalley Jan 2012 #20
AdHocSolver Jan 2012 #21
dougolat Jan 2012 #22
wakemewhenitsover Jan 2012 #35
phylny Jan 2012 #24
Rhiannon12866 Jan 2012 #25
randr Jan 2012 #26
Martin Eden Jan 2012 #27
Hotler Jan 2012 #28
xchrom Jan 2012 #29
arikara Jan 2012 #30
xchrom Jan 2012 #32
DCBob Jan 2012 #31
Rhiannon12866 Jan 2012 #36
DCBob Jan 2012 #37

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 06:04 PM

1. So awesome! Crows are sooo smart. n/t

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Response to Turn CO Blue (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 06:05 PM

2. i'm not sure -- but either crows or otters invented fun cool. i think. nt

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 06:19 PM

3. "Wow, this is cool," <--------------------- wholeheartedly agree

 

The Atlantic, btw, should be required reading for all US high school and university students, it is a superb magazine.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 06:33 PM

4. I just saw that on the tv. Crows have really human like personalities. It is creepy.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 06:35 PM

5. Do not, repeat DO NOT look up the New Caldonian crow research.

It will knock your socks off. They use meta-tools. Tools to get tools to get food.

Nature = awesome.

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Response to Robb (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 07:08 PM

9. Saw that on Nat Geo or PBS or somewhere.

Crows are indeed scary smart.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 06:45 PM

6. Our neighbor has walnut trees

and the crows pick up nuts that fall on the ground and fly over our driveway where they drop them on the asphalt to crack them open. If it doesn't crack the first time they swoop down and pick it up and drop it until it opens up.

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Response to tularetom (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 07:16 PM

10. Attenborough did a doc about birds, the doc showed a crow standing with people at a

an intersection waiting for the light to turn green. The crow then hopped over to streetcar tracks an placed a nut it was holding in its beak on the tracks, the crow then hopped back to the curb unperturbed by the people around him. He hopped back to the track once a street car ran over hte nut and cracked the shell!

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Response to snagglepuss (Reply #10)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 05:51 PM

34. Found this video

Not the same video you saw, but still amazing...

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Response to tularetom (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 08:09 PM

14. Some coastal birds also do this with shelled etables

 

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 06:49 PM

7. Whee!!

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 07:08 PM

8. My mother, a firm believer in reincarnation,

always wanted to return as a river otter because they had so few predators and always looked like they were having so much fun sliding down falls, climbing up, and sliding down again.

Six months after she died, a group of river otters was spotted in the northern part of this state, first time since the early 1950s.

How weird is that?

But I digress, lots of animals seem to do things just for the fun of it. If you've ever owned a cat or dog, you already know this stuff. The crow is only different because he chose his own sled.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 07:16 PM

11. worth the few minutes to watch!

reminds me... I so regret not having a video camera with me a few years ago... I was in Irving, TX at the California Crossing Park standing by the Trinity River. My partner and I watched as 3 turtles repeatedly climbed up a ledge (about 6 feet or so) and then one by one jumped into the river... then swam back to where they could easily climb the ledge and then all 3 one by one jumped into the river to swim back to the place where they could easily climb the ledge... my partner was with me and we still talk in amazement about it to this day animals are so incredibly awesome sometimes... or for want of a camera


at a spot much like this...

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 07:29 PM

12. Prediction

This has beer commercial written all over it.

My late father used to tell me how smart crows are. Ever notice how they don't get off the road unless they have to. They're starting to deal with traffic like New York City people!

-90% Jimmy

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 08:05 PM

13. Some 20 years ago the Smithsonian Magazine had an article about crows.

 

One of the things they mentioned was a problem that the crows were causing in Moscow becasue they were sliding down the gold leaf coated onion domed buildings on their bums and rubbing the gold leaf off.

Apparently the crows just found it fun.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 08:44 PM

15. +1, cool. Here's another interesting piece on crow intelligence:

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Response to stevedeshazer (Reply #15)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 04:18 AM

23. very cool

especially the part on making a hook!

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 09:28 PM

16. We put food out for them summer and winter and one found something

too dry or hard, brought it over to the rain trough on the side of our shed that the birds use for baths and drinking and it dropped the food into the trough until it had softened, picked it out and flew off with it.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 10:37 PM

17. haha, read the title and text as "cows"

was wondering how a cow could sled on a lid, then fly back up the hill...

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Response to eShirl (Reply #17)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 04:47 PM

33. Me too! n/t

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 11:27 PM

18. Among twenty snowy mountains, the only thing moving, was a sledding crow.

Goddamn.

PB

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 11:43 PM

19. My neighbor's dog loves to run and slide down the hill in the snow.

He slides, and rolls around, and goes back to the top of the hill to do it again. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself...no encouragement or human intervention or anything. So cool.

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Response to FLyellowdog (Reply #19)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 12:51 AM

20. we have giant ravens up here and there is no smarter bird. they are freaking wiley

They will pull the wiper blades off your car, fly in groups and heckle bald eagles.

I saw one work and work on a closed bottle of pop he had found until I took it and gave him my bag of lettuce from my grocieres.

I've seen them flying when its windy riding up up up and then just falling like a rock until another breeze takes them up. They love to play together flying like maniacs. I love crows and ravens.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 03:08 AM

21. The best learning takes place through play and problem solving.

This is because the learner is engaged and motivated.

Schooling in the U.S. crushes this motivation and is the reason our young people wind up so poorly educated.

No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top only exacerbate the problem of poor education because they are contrary to this fact of nature that we can see in animals.

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Response to AdHocSolver (Reply #21)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 03:31 AM

22. Good Point! nt

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Response to AdHocSolver (Reply #21)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 05:52 PM

35. +1 n/t

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 07:39 AM

24. When our girls were little, we had small aquariums.

We had a fish named Rosie (because she was very tiny, maybe the size of a very small paper clip, and you could see her heart because she was almost translucent).

Rosie liked to "ride" the bubbler. She would swim over to the bubbles until she was whooshed up to the surface, swim down and do it again. She lived a long time, too.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 08:15 AM

25. K&R! Love it! I guess birds just want to have fun! LOL

Dogs and cats play, so why wouldn't birds? But I have to admit, this one is mighty clever!

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 08:40 AM

27. Way cool, thanks! n/t

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 10:26 AM

28. I have crows that come by my bird feeders.

I put peanuts in the shell out for them and they will swallow one or two long ways and then fuck around stacking three more in a pyramid and fly off.

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Response to Hotler (Reply #28)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 10:37 AM

29. i used to feed my squirrels in cali -- the crows

would come and get all the peanuts -- there would be a regular throw down between the squirrels and the crows -- but the crows were bigger and they could fly.

and what is with the stacking thing? they'll stack anything it seems like.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 10:39 AM

30. My Mr used to play with a squirrel who could count peanuts

Mr would lay out a line of say 10 or so peanuts on the balcony rail and the squirrel would come up and touch each one with his nose then pick up a couple and take off to hide them. While he was gone, Mr would take one peanut away and when he came back the squirrel would do the nose touching thing again and go strange looking for the missing peanut even though there were seven more still laying there. It was hilarious.

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Response to arikara (Reply #30)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 10:58 AM

32. My squirrels would do the same thing!

I don't know if they knew how many - but they knew where they were supposed to be!

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 10:56 AM

31. Amazing..

almost appears to have been trained but I think the bird just discovered it on its own.

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Response to DCBob (Reply #31)

Sat Jan 14, 2012, 10:13 PM

36. And it must be fun for him to keep doing it over and over again, LOL.

Positive reinforcement? It really is amazing and you can't help but smile...

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Response to Rhiannon12866 (Reply #36)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 06:15 AM

37. Yes, the appearance that the bird is enjoying it is fascinating.

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