To: "'COG-L'" <>
Subject: Suicide?
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2014 22:37:57 +1100
I think the chances are high that John is probably correct, except with the caution that we cannot possibly truly know whether birds can think such things. Or indeed any other animal. Just that there is no good reason to believe they do. About Birds are a bit far down the evolutionary tree to have the brain structures required, well that is by virtue of that we assess that the point at which birds extruded from reptiles, via being small dinosaurs, is from an earlier point in reptile evolution than the point at which mammals evolved from a different group of reptiles. Otherwise birds are not a lesser class of fauna. The relevant brain structures may be in different parts of the brain from ours. Bird intelligence is not outside and below the intelligence range of mammals (as in there is an overlap). Then again it is an anthropomorphic question, comparing to the special case of humans. 
I think Geoffrey's graphic was close to the truth.
or following the original story, the raven just got tired of waiting and took a chance.
-----Original Message-----
From: John Brown [
Sent: Sunday, 30 March 2014 5:15 PM
To: muriel story
Cc: Brian Thorp; COG-L
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Suicide?

While quite intelligent, Birds are a bit far down the evolutionary tree to have the brain structures required for the kind of emotions, self-reflection and world view associated with the kind of self-planned suicides that humans sometimes demonstrate. At the level of birds we have a range of associative learning styles, from trial and error, associative and (in bigger birds at least) imitation. This bird appears to have taken the Avian Darwin Award for this year, bring an end to whatever association had developed in its neural network which initiated this particular action. Other birds which use walking out into traffic as a way of successfully cracking nuts are clearly on a more adaptive evolutionary track! 


On 30 Mar 2014, at 4:18 pm, "muriel story" <> wrote:

Sounds quite significant behaviour considering a pub out Yanco way had a standing prize of a slab of ale for anyone who ran over what all would call a Crow. I understand the prize has never been claimed.


On Saturday, March 29, 2014, Brian Thorp <> wrote:
My daughter-in-law told me of a strange incident last week in a busy part of Civic.

There was a raven standing close to the side of the road who spent about five minutes carefully and intently watching every car go by.
Eventually it walked calmly out just as a car came up, timing it such that the driver could not avoid killing it.

Does anyone have any likely explanation?

Thanks, Brian

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