Back in 1900 someone wrote to The Telegraph (Brisbane) with a story demonstrating the reasoning powers of crows. A family had a pet crow plus a pet cat, and the two barely tolerated each other.  One morning the cat was given a tasty treat, which the crow coveted and repeatedly tried to steal;

Tabby beat off each attempt, however, and the crow had to resort to strategies. Disappearing through the open door, he returned in a few moments with a long string that had unravelled from a rag carpet. Placing this on the floor some distance from the cat, he proceeded to wriggle it as he had seen the children do when playing with Tabby. The cat incessantly jumped to catch the string. This was of course was just what the crow wanted, and he, with equal dexterity, pounced upon the morsel and flew away with it.

Yes, that’s pretty clever!

In the 1990’s my father submitted a little piece to Tasmania’s Advocate newspaper. I suspect it was  the only occasion  on which  he did so, which is probably why he sent me the cutting.,,..that and  the fact that he knew I was somewhat obsessed with birds. 😎 My apologies that it’s not the sharpest image.


I must admit I was impressed by my father posing that philosophical question as to how the birds decided which crow would act as ‘lookout’.    It’s something that had never crossed my mind. Of course kookaburras act in the  same way. When they roost in a line at night, one bird will sit in the opposite direction to ensure there are no  unforeseen attacks.

And now we come to the reas0n I wrote this piece. The following information was published on the website BirdAvid, in an article by Ravi Ganguly;

Birds are more intelligent than you may think. Two extremely intelligent birds are crows and ravens, due to their complex calls and understanding of tasks. However, are crows smarter than ravens, or are ravens smarter than crows?

It’s an important distinction because, guess what?  Tasmania doesn’t have crows, only Forest Ravens.


Tasmania's Forest Raven, not a crow.

Forest Raven at Mole Creek, Tasmania. Photo by DiverDave, Source – Wilipedia.


Back to Ravi Ganguly and his question. Which is the more intelligent bird?  Well, his opinion was  that the raven is smarter, because it can solve  quite complex problems and remember specific people.

There could be no prouder  Tasmanian in history than my old Dad was, so he would have been delighted by Ganguly’s  determination. 😍  Yes, those clever, apple stealing crows he watched and wondered over  at Spalford were actually ravens.

After I published this someone responded with a little gem;

Mind you, it’s a ‘matter of a pinion’ whether it’s actually true!

Do you know the answer to this old riddle set by Lewis Carroll?


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