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Crows Are Smarter Than You Think

Lucina M

It is easy to dismiss crows as a loud annoying neighbor, but they are deceptively smart. 

On this episode of Talk of Iowa  host Charity Nebbe talks to about Wildlife Biologist Jim Pease about Crows and other birds in the Corvid family. 

Besides crows, the Corvid family includes blue jays, ravens, and magpies. Corvids are a common birds, they are on every continent except Antarctica. 

"They all have some things in common. One of them is, which you mentioned, is they are very gregarious. And this is across nearly every species in the family. They tend to be very social," said Pease.

They are often very verbal to help warn other members of their family and animals around them of possible dangers, including the presence owls and other predators. 

The birds are very protective of their young. They usually have around five eggs a year and watch their offspring very carefully. 

"In fact all members of the family are really incredible parents. Every single one of these builds a sort of saucer shape nest," said Pease.

The birds usually choose to build their own nest hidden in the tree. The baby birds spend several weeks in the nest before venturing out. 

"The young, in both crows and jays, are born naked. There are no feathers on them; they'll grow down very quickly, and they're blind. And they gradually then gather some downy feathers. And anywhere from three weeks, in the case of blue jays, to about five weeks, in the case of crows, they fledge, they leave the nest. And then begin to follow their parents around," said Pease.

It is common for the birds young to hang around for a year. 

"Because they may take a couple of years before they're in breeding condition, they'll often hang around mom and dad and help with the feeding of the young," said Pease.

Researchers do not yet know if these helpers are sons or daughters, or if they are even related to the parent birds. More research still has to be done on these very intelligent birds. 

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa