They may (or may not) be smarter than a fifth-grader. But Ravens (like the fine specimen above photographed by Corey) are no slouches in the intelligence department. Recently published research suggests that these corvids are at least as clever as primates like chimpanzees.

A team of researchers from Sweden, the UK, and Germany collaborated to study intelligence in Ravens, Jackdaws, and New Caledonian Crows. Compared with the results of a large-scale 2014 study in animals, the birds performed admirably well at devising ways to retrieve a treat from a transparent tube.

“This shows that bird brains are quite efficient, despite having a smaller absolute brain size. As indicated by the study, there might be other factors apart from absolute brain size that are important for intelligence, such as neuronal density,” said cognitive science doctoral student Can Kabadayi. “There is still so much we need to understand and learn about the relationship between intelligence and brain size, as well as the structure of a bird’s brain, but this study clearly shows that bird brains are not simply birdbrains after all!”


Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.