Sometimes birds are just a lot smarter than we give them credit for. There have been many documented cases of American Crows solving complicated puzzles in order to get food. The Carrion Crows, of Japan are known for gathering nuts, and then leaving then on the paved roads for the cars to run over and crack the tough outer shells. This behavior has been adapted to leaving the nuts in intersections with stop lights. This allows the Crows to retrieve the broken nuts in safety, once the cars are stopped.

Blog Western Scrub Jay


Acorn Woodpeckers, as well as several species of Jays will gather hundreds of nuts, stashing them carefully around their territory. Then will retrieve nearly 100% of them as needed thru the winter.


Acorn Woodpecker (2)

Northern Mockingbirds, as well as several other species are quite adapt at mimicking sounds from their environment.

Anybody who has spent any amount of time in a marina, has seen the seagulls, grabbing clams and mussels, fly high above the parking lot and them drop them, in order to break them open. I recently spoke to a local boater who was stationed at Camp Pendleton Marine Base, and remembers being hit in the head while doing drills, by a seagull doing exactly that, dropping clams onto the parade grounds.

Size does not matter! Hummingbirds have been proven to be able to keep track of nearly every flower in their territory. So, while they might be our smallest bird, it appears that they might have the very best memory.

The list can go on and on, but there is no doubt that my favorite “Learned Behavior” is exhibited by the Green Heron. I am sure that many of you have seen the U-Tube video of the Green Heron using a small piece of cracker to “bait” a fish in to their range. It is truly a blast to watch, but now I have gotten to see the real thing in action. Here in Marina Palmira where we keep our sailboat, there are a couple of waterside restaurants. It is quite common to see the kids standing at the rail, throwing bits of bread or crackers to the fish, who gather there for an easy meal. Recently, a Green Heron has started to grab a bit of the bread, tear it to pieces if it is too big, and then carefully lay the piece on the water. If the bread is eaten, without catching a fish, it will tear off a new piece, and start over. Should it begin to drift too far away, it will pull it back, constantly making adjustments to the baits position. Sooner than later, the temptation for an easy meal will draw one of the fish just a little too close….and it will become a meal for our enterprising little heron.


Take just a little piece of bread….Green Heron-2


Place it ever so carefully….Green Heron-3


When the little fishy gets close…

Green Heron-4


This Sargent Major just got a little too close

Green Heron-7 (2)


And down it goes in one bite!!Green Heron-11


Birds are such marvelous creatures. Drop me a note with your favorite “Smart Bird” story!

Written by Tom Brown
Tom Brown grew up in the high desert area of central Oregon. His love for birds and photography started at a young age. Thru the course of time, travel, and a lot of different occupations, he ended up living in Seattle, and met a girl with a sailboat. When he is not scouring whatever area they are in, looking for the next great bird photo, he can be found trying to earn enough money for the next adventure, and of course, a new lens or camera body! Having been nick-named “The Bird Nerd” by his last remaining friends and family, Tom continues search for that next lifer, and the accompanying photo that goes with it. Find his continuing adventures, photographs, and guiding opportunities at Focus on Feathers.