An interesting item on avian intelligence

To: "Cas and Lisa Liber" <>
Subject: An interesting item on avian intelligence
From: Carl Clifford <>
Date: Sun, 10 May 2009 10:31:50 +1000
I think that the Common Raven Corvus corax might be the brightest of the bunch in the Corvidae, but how they compare with the Australian Magpie or any other Artamidae, who knows? We need someone like Bernd Heinrich to do similar work on Magpies as was done on Ravens. It would be a game person to steal chicks from Magpie nests for hand rearing like Heinrich did with Raven chicks. Ravens seem to be real wusses when it comes to nest defence, compared to our Maggies.


Carl Clifford

On 10/05/2009, at 9:31 AM, Cas and Lisa Liber wrote:

Great read that, from folks observing corvids vs the large artamids, do the
former impress as especially more intelligent than Australian Magpies?

Also, anyone know of the original references for magpies eating cane toads.
I found one at


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Carl Clifford
Sent: Saturday, May 09, 2009 10:38 PM
To: Chris Sanderson
Subject: An interesting item on avian intelligence

Bernd Heinrich an Ethologist who has done a lot of work with Ravens ( his
book, Ravens in Winter is certainly worth a read). His studies show that
Ravens have a remarkable degree of problem solving ability.
Heinrich and Thomas Bugnyar wrote a fascinating article in Scientific
American showing that Ravens even appear to be able to use logic to solve
problems. An overview of the article can be found at


Carl Clifford

On 09/05/2009, at 10:09 PM, Chris Sanderson wrote:

Hi Peter,

There are other examples of crow intelligence out there.  Japanese
Crows for
example have developed a strategy for getting into nuts by dropping them
under the wheels of cars at pedestrian crossings.  I believe there is
another corvid in North America that has over 100 calls in its
Just 2 quick examples, I'm sure there's many more.


On Sat, May 9, 2009 at 7:51 PM, Peter Shute <> wrote:

Somone will probably tell me it's been proven otherwise, but I'm a
wary of attributing too much intelligence to crows, etc. It might be
they have somehow evolved very advanced skills for getting things
out of
holes with sticks, but not for much else.

Once they've evolved the instinct to get a stick, and (remarkably) to
modify one end as a hook, there's not that much to it.

Peter Shute

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