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!”
Interesting comment about neuronal density. We have a pair of Rufous Hummingbirds at our feeder that seem quite intelligent, and their brains must be so tiny.