Waging Bull

To boldly think what no one has thought before.

Counting Crows

Scientists (and whoever else studies these things) are finding out more and more how smart crows are. In fact, scientists in Germany have been testing crows with tasks in order to determine how they reason. You can read a brief article about it here, but the bottom line is that it appears crows have self-awareness and they know what they know (metacognitively speaking). Among other things, that would mean that crows understand identity and they likely also can associate with things (people, places, objects) with other things in some fashion. I’m fairly certain this is true, based on my own personal experiences with the crows that spend a lot of time in the very old oak trees on our property. They talk to me regularly.

My relationship with the crows began many years ago, perhaps a decade or so ago (if not a few years earlier). At the time we had a large white shepherd, and he spent a lot of time free-roaming our property or hanging out in the fenced portion of the yard around the pool. To be more accurate, it wasn’t with me that the crow relationship began. It was with our dog. Nearly every day he would be out back, and he would bark at the crows. After a while I noticed that the crows would always caw back. Were they taunting him? Asking him about his day? Sharing news of the neighborhood? I could not be sure, but it didn’t sound like an adversarial relationship. Whatever it was, I’m fairly certain dog and crows were communicating.

Several years ago, our dog passed away from cancer. He died at home, and he spent his last few days in front of the double glass doors that looked out on the back yard. Here’s a picture of him lying on his side, as he didn’t have the strength anymore to sit up. His back is arched so that he can see out the doors.

It’s entirely possible that the crows could see into the house where he was. He died on that floor, just a few minutes before we were going to take him to the vet to be put to sleep, and we were grateful that he spent his last moments at home. I had to carry him out through the front doors to take him to the vet for cremation, so the crows may have seen what was going on. I’m sure they were very familiar with the smell of death.

For weeks the crows made a sound like they were mourning his passing. And it was after that when they began to talk with me as I walked outside. It was as if to say there were sorry for my loss, and that they had enjoyed his company.

So, yes, I’m sure that crows are very smart. And that they remember things. Somehow they understand that we loved our dog, and that he is gone. But they haven’t forgotten, and it’s nice to have them remind me whenever our paths cross under the trees in our yard.

About Learning Through Play

An explorer of the relationship between play and learning.

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This entry was posted on January 5, 2021 by in animals, crows, death, dogs, intelligence and tagged .
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