Considering the first member of our animal education program is a crow, you might guess I have a particular soft spot for corvids! But that doesn’t mean my love and fascination for these creatures is unfounded.
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Crows and ravens are incredibly intelligent birds. Researchers recognize over 42 different species of crows and ravens, so let’s highlight a few interesting ones that you’ve probably never heard of!
1. The African Pied Crow
If I had a dollar for every time someone misidentified our African pied crow as a magpie, I’d be able to build an acre-long aviary and fill it with non-releasable corvids.
The African Pied Crow, scientifically name Corvus albus, is a stunning black and white crow species found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They’re named for that characteristic black and white plumage, also known as piebald coloration.
One thing that I’ve found while teaching people the difference between these two birds is that very few understand just how different “related” birds are. A common response we’ve received when discussing the differences between the two is “Well they’re in the same family, they’re essentially the same right?”
Crows and (most) magpies share the same taxonomic family, Corvidae. But foxes and wolves also share a taxonomic family, Canidae. Because birds can look relatively similar to one another, sometimes people can overlook the incredible differences and intricacies between two species!
2. The New Caledonian Crow
Though I haven’t personally worked with this species, they’re absolutely incredible and their intelligence is renowned in the scientific community.
The New Caledonian Crow, scientifically name Corvus moneduloides, is a remarkable crow species found on the remote islands of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean. This crow is known for its exceptional problem-solving skills and tool usage. In fact, the New Caledonian Crow has been observed crafting and using tools in the wild, making it one of the few non-human species to exhibit this behavior. It uses sticks to extract insects from tree bark and even bends twigs into hooks to obtain hard-to-reach food sources.
What sets the New Caledonian Crow apart is its ability to create new tools by modifying existing ones. They can combine separate pieces to create a tool that they can use for a specific task. It’s nothing short of remarkable.
3. The Hawaiian Crow
This species, though highly intelligent, is present for its rarity.
The Hawaiian Crow, also known as the ‘Alalā in the Hawaiian language, is a critically endangered species endemic to the Hawaiian islands. It is one of the most endangered crow species in the world.
The decline of the Hawaiian Crow population can be attributed to various factors, including habitat loss, predation, and disease. Efforts are underway to save this species from extinction through captive breeding programs and habitat restoration. The ‘Alalā Recovery Project, a collaborative effort involving conservation organizations, aims to reintroduce captive-bred crows into protected habitats.
The success of these conservation efforts will be crucial in ensuring the survival of this unique and culturally significant bird.
Crows are truly remarkable birds, and the African Pied Crow, the New Caledonian Crow, and the Hawaiian Crow are no exception. These species showcase the incredible intelligence, adaptability, and problem-solving abilities of crows.
As we continue to learn more about these brainiac birds, it is important to appreciate and protect their habitats to ensure their survival for future generations.
You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.
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