We've known for a long time that crows and ravens (and other corvids) are very, very clever birds, but we're continually surprised by just how clever they are. As scavengers, their livelihood is entirely dependent on their ability to find food, meaning that they get rewarded for creativity. This BBC video shows what happens when an animal that gets rewarded for creativity evolves over untold generations. It get to a point where cleverness and the ability to reason combine for an epic level of problem solving:
What's relevant here is not just that the bird is able to solve the problem: it's the fact that the bird has to think about how to solve the problem first. This isn't just the result of dedicated trial and error. The bird examines the test, decides what needs to be done to solve it, and then executes a plan. It's this ability to use imagination (or whatever you want to call it) that's so unique about corvids, and may make them among the smartest animals on Earth.
Corvids have also been observed using tools in non-foraging contexts, meaning that they don't just think of tools as a means to acquire food, but rather as a much more general way of enabling them to do things that they might not otherwise be able to do. For example, they make tools with which they can poke objects that they've never seen before, just in case the object turns out to be somehow dangerous. And they even use tools for play. The video below shows a Russian crow using a coffee can lid as a sled on a snowy roof. Wheee!
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