By Remez Sasson
I went for a walk yesterday in the afternoon.
As I was walking, I saw a crow flying with something big in its mouth. It landed not far from me on the pavement, and started walking toward a big puddle of water along the pavement, made by the heavy rain that fell during the morning.
When I looked a little closer, I saw that the crow was carrying in its beak a big slice of dry bread.
To my surprise, it walked straight into the puddle and dropped the slice of bread into the water. It waited for a little while, and then turned the slice of bread on its other side, letting it soak in the water from both sides, so as to make it soft and easier to eat.
All this happened too fast, and since I was absorbed in watching the crow, I didn’t have the time to photograph what it did.
This behavior showed intelligence. The crow knew that soaking the bread in the water will make it soft.
I knew that crows are depicted in fables as wise birds, especially in Aesop’s fables, like in the fable below:
The Crow and the Pitcher
(From The Aesop for Children)
“In a spell of dry weather, when the Birds could find very little to drink, a thirsty Crow found a pitcher with a little water in it. But the pitcher was high and had a narrow neck, and no matter how he tried, the Crow could not reach the water. The poor thing felt as if he must die of thirst.”
“Then an idea came to him. Picking up some small pebbles, he dropped them into the pitcher one by one. With each pebble, the water rose a little higher until at last it was near enough so he could drink.”
What I saw made me curious, so I searched the Internet and found an article about experiments that researchers made, proving that crows are intelligent and have the ability to solve problems.
This article says that researchers presented four crows with a challenge from Aesop’s fable The Crow and the Pitcher. They put in front of them a container of water not quite full enough for the birds to reach with their beaks. Just like Aesop’s crow, all four birds figured out how to raise the water level by dropping stones into the glass. The crows also selectively chose large pebbles over small ones.
There are also a few videos in the article showing the experiments. You can read the article at: www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/08/aesopscrows/