[Here, a crow reaches food by adding stones to containers
in order to raise the water level. Pretty crafty.]
Without a doubt, one of my favorite aspects of human society is our love of puzzles. We have this marvelous desire to challenge each other with all sorts of mechanical puzzles, logic games, pen-and-paper puzzles, apps, and riddles, and arguably the only thing better than creating such diabolical obstacles is overcoming them.
But humans aren’t the only puzzle solvers on the planet. In previous blog posts, we’ve explored the puzzly skills of octopuses and cockatoos, two immensely clever species that’ve each tackled their fair share of mechanical puzzles.
Sure, they’re not solving Sudoku grids or unraveling centuries-old mysteries like Nicolas Cage in National Treasure, but they are putting memory, dexterity, and problem solving to the test with remarkable success.
And today, we welcome a third non-human species to the pantheon of Earthly puzzle solvers: crows.
Check out this video, a segment from a BBC documentary, featuring a crow solving a multi-stage mechanical puzzle in order to feed itself:
[Not quite a feast for crows, is it?]
While this video is amazing, I can’t say I’m surprised. Crows are immensely clever creatures. I remember reading a news story from Japan a few years ago about crows outwitting numerous anti-crow efforts by the Japanese to control the sometimes-dangerous birds. (In Tokyo, crows have caused power outages, downed Internet lines, and even injured citizens.)
When anti-crow traps and sweeps began thinning their numbers, the crows responded by building multiple fake nests to mislead and flummox employees tasked with controlling the bird problem.
And with puzzly skills like those shown in the video on their side, those crows could prove to be an even bigger challenge than they expect.
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