Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Haley Reading Group: "A Question of Corvids”

[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2015)]

Shelia Webster Boneham makes the argument that Corvids birds are considered one of the most intelligent animals. Boneham states that crows have a “brain-to-body-mass ratios that match those of cetaceans and apes” and are only slightly behind humans (35).

Boneham uses this article to describe the multiple scenarios and research that include Corvids demonstrating their intelligence. This article encourages readers to examine their interactions with animals, especially birds in the corvid family.

What's one way you are inclined to view birds in a way that you had previously not? How did the article assist you in getting to that point?

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Previously I thought of birds as a dumb species. However, after reading this article, I have changed my views. I found it humorous how the birds learned to say "yeees" when asked if they were hungry and wanted some food. I was also impressed to hear that they worked with coyotes to get food from dead animals. Finally, the idea that birds may use the formic acid from ants for something other than survival, just because they like how it makes them feel, makes me think that they are a thinking species.

Marina T.

Anonymous said...

I thought, “A Question of Corvids” was an interesting read. It is hard for us to believe that animals might also be knowledgeable to a certain extent. In this excerpt from Prime Number Magazine it talks about some of the strategies Ravens use to acquire food. One of the techniques I found the most interesting was when the Ravens “call” wolves to dead animals. Because Ravens lack bills or talons, they rely on the wolves to tear apart the prey so they can get to what's inside.

Madalynn McKenzie

LaTrina Brown said...

When I think of birds or see them, I don't necessarily believe that they are stupid. I have always believed that birds were of some intelligence because of how they maneuver as a species. While reading the article, I was intrigued by the fact that some birds carry out a certain behavior called "anting". This refers to the birds showering themselves in formic acid after squishing ants against their feathers. There are many explanations for why some birds do this and it was the most interesting part of the article to me.

Sable M. said...

I've always viewed animals as smart even birds, but to learn that wanting is a hallucinogen and that trying to train a bird in actuality trains us. In another way of intelligence the corvids invite wolves to help so that they can eat from the carcass. Not only the higher intelligence than thought before, but also the beauty to be found in the birds. Though I found birds the be smart like any other animal, I found them to be a bit gnarly. But learning that they hold beautiful colors such as blues and violet and not just black was an interesting thing to discover.

Anonymous said...

This article drove me to see birds as diverse, intelligent predators, instead of the free, elegant air-heads that I used to view them as. Ravens illustrate their intelligence as they "'call' wolves to large animals they find dead," because they know that they cannot it eat it due to their beaks so they call wolves to do the job(35). Birds have a diversity in size, color, and beaks, which brings some people to love them and some people to fear them.

Samantha A.

Linda H. said...

Linda H.

Before reading the article I was unaware that birds had the brain capacity that they do, or could talk. I assumed that birds worked of instinct rather than being able to think and comprehend. I also didn't realize how fierce birds could be when it comes to their food from calling wolves to open their carcass for them, to attacking rabbits in the park. This article changed my perception on birds from thinking that they were an unintelligent species that don't do much, to a species that are focused on the many ways they can get food.

Anonymous said...

It is crazy how much I learn from this book. Birds and fishes are to me the most beautiful animals in the planet because they do not live like us and have particular power such as flying and breathing under water. I was thrilled by what was mentioned in article: " many traditions link corvids to war, death and underworld"(35). My grandmother used to tell me that if ever one of my relatives or loved ones were to be sick, and If at that very moment I saw a crow on my window or in our coumpound, that I should not hunt them because the crow might be carrying my relative's spirit and this last came to say good bye. I thought this myth was one of my grandma's creepy stories but I am happy to know that other cultures believe in it as well.

Geonel M.

Caulder Brantley said...

Caulder B.

I thought this article was very interesting and informative. It did not per say change my view or how I perceive birds because I've never thought of them to be less intelligent than us (humans) just have a lower capacity to understand some things. One thing I found interesting was the discussion on if birds can or cannot process death. I found this topic fascinating because it's not something you really think about. Like I just assumed that all living things/ animals understand death because well it's death. I thought it was odd that many scientist don't think other animals mourn or can understand death. Another thing I liked about this article was how it flipped the script on how people view crows/ Corvids. I know many of believe these animals to be mindless scavengers or nuisance at best but reading this really made me want to find out more about these complex and intriguing animals.

Caleb Abernathy said...

Previously, I knew that the avian species was intelligent but I was unsure of to what degree. For instance, I also knew that some species of birds could speak to an extent, but I always assumed that for the most part, it was involuntary. Almost as if they were just mimicking words that they had heard from someone. Which, to some extent, is still true. On the other hand though, the passage informed me that some species of birds, the Corvids for example, actually have one of the highest brain mass to body mass ratio. They are only behind that of humans and apes. Some of the actions that Corvids take are actually quite drawn out and planned in an almost tactile fashion.

All in all, my approach to the avian species was rather myopic. I thought of most birds doing things in the same fashion just to survive. When in fact, some birds are actually quite intellectual.

Unknown said...

Alexis H.

I’ve always believed that every species on the planet was smart, but to different extents. After reading this article I know to what extent birds are smart. Yes, they are different, but they also have survived after all these years. I know that they communicate with wolves to assist them to eat. They also do things for their enjoyment, for instance, crushing an ant and putting it on them. This article has given me insight on birds.

Gabrielle H. said...

I found it very interesting on page 37 that many birds pick up ants to place them on their body to roam around. I never knew birds did this and i don't understand why they would, but it was nice to see that scientist have hypothesized several reasons. Two of the most compelling reasons were, "the formic acid may serve as an insecticide" or they use it for "fending off parasitic mites." I occasionally do see birds pecking at their backs so maybe they place it their to reduce irritation from an itch or even as a small protein snack down the road. Therefore, reading that this technique is capable of intoxicating these birds, will make me look at their action in a new light.

Anonymous said...

Reading A Question of Corvids really changed my view on birds. I previously had preconceived notions tat animals are just less complex than humans. However, i have been made aware of the brain capacity that these animals show. It is also very interesting to see how animals work together in their food webs. The birds calling wolves over to basically serve them their dinner is very amazing.

Fatima Bashir

Unknown said...

Before reading this article I saw birds as birds. They weren't anything special to me. However, after reading this article I see birds very differently. I saw that they could learn and they communicate with others. I found it interesting that they help the coyotes in finding food. I did not think that birds were dumb or stupid I just never thought that they were special. This article made me realize that there more that happens in the wild than what we see from the side of the road or inside our houses.

Cecelia S.

Anonymous said...

After reading, “A Question of Corvids”, I feel inclined to view birds on a higher intelligence scale. It's not that I have ever doubted the intelligence of a bird. In my opinion, anything that can fly has to be some type of smart. But after reading the article, I'm really shocked by what a bird's level of intelligence may actually be. The article pointed out how the crow can mimic, how the scrub jay can possibly understand death, how flocks of magpies hunt down and devour baby rabbits, and much more. All of which leads me to believe, birds have a lot more going on up top then we may ever know. ~Lillien W.

Anonymous said...

When I thought of birds I did not really think much about them. I considered them to be an average species but never really thought they were intelligent like the article discusses. The article lead by to this revelation by talking about how birds sometimes use wolfs to get food was one point that I found rather unique and demonstrated their intelligence. Another point the article makes that let me to my new thought process was how birds use formic ants as a form of insecticide.
-Alexis R

Jovahna Williams said...

I never thought of birds really being able to study humans as other species do. I also never really thought of birds as a particularly intelligent species until reading this passage. After reading "A Question of Corvids" it brought light to the fact that birds do study different species and the sheer diversity of birds is utterly amazing in and of itself. The different example that Boneham gives of the birds that just wait and watch for food as compared to the birds that just "find the thing that they all want"(33). The comparison that Boneham makes and the way she specifically describes the different types of Corvids brings the idea that birds are much more than what people may normally think and can actually be quite similar to humans
Jovahna W.

Unknown said...

Kami Douglas

After reading, "A Question of Corvids", I made the realization that we, as humans, tend to consider ourselves so much more advanced as far as intelligence when in reality, we are not as advanced than many species as we are inclined to believe. This article also made me realize how closely related some other species behavior are to us. For instance, the fact that some birds fly in flocks when hunting for food.
This example of bird behavior is similar to when humans would hunt together with other groups of men or even as a family as a whole. It even talked about crows mimicking. This is similar to as when growing children mimic behavior that they are taught when growing up. As a whole, this article made me realize the intelligence of other species.

Anonymous said...

I personally have always thought that birds were intelligent in a sense. This piece adds to that by highlighting some of the most interesting things about birds, such as their sharp vision, the idea of birds teaching us rather than us teaching them, and how birds take part in an action called "anting". This article didn't make me change my entire viewpoint on birds because I didn't view them as a dumb specie. But it was interesting to learn that they are viewed as one of the most intelligent animals, because I never viewed them that way.
-Gianna Turner

Dasmin W. said...

Before reading this article, I really did not think much of birds. I just thought of them as another animal. With reading this article, it really open my eyes at seeing how intelligent and human-like birds are. I found it fascinating how birds communicate with other animals to get prey and speak. Learning birds can actually speak is shocking to me because I thought we were the only species that could do that.

Anonymous said...

Before I read this article I pretty much thought that birds were just annoying and pooped everywhere. To me they just seemed to take up space and make noise. However, after reading this article I now see how birds do things for specific reasons. They are smart creatures that have some what of an advance way of living. Whether it be their way of communicating or how their vision helps them spot prey and avoid predators. Even though birds will probably still continue to get on my nerves I have a new found respect for them as a species.

Jasmine S.

Anonymous said...

“I personally have always viewed birds as intelligent in a sense. This piece adds to that by highlighting some of the most interesting things about the species, such as their sharp eye, the idea that they may be teaching us rather than us teaching them, and that they take part in an action called “anting”. This piece didn’t complete change my viewpoint on birds because I never seen them as dumb, but it was interesting to learn that they’re considered one of the most intelligent animals because I never seen them that way.”
-Gianna T

Anonymous said...

I love birds, they are the best animals besides cats and dogs in my opinion. I knew they weren't stupid, no animal really is. However, even I didn't know all the cool things they could do. This article added a new found respect for birds and their abilities.
Brean W.

Anonymous said...

Before reading the article, I didn't think of birds as an intelligent species. However, after reading the article, I know that Corvids "are considered by many people to be among the most intelligent animals" (35). Corvids are a very diverse bunch and intelligent bunch, and I had never thought of that way before reading the article, I thought that birds were just simple minded creatures.
-Alyria B.

hannah coleman said...

Before reading the article, I never thought much of a bird's intelligence. The main reason why I didn't believe they were smart was because they didn't have a biological need for intelligence- such as a spider having strategy, or a lion hunting prey. However, it shed light on the fact that birds are in fact incredibly intelligent animals.

Hannah Coleman

Rachael Gray said...

I always wondered why people thought of ravens and crows as being creepy. I guess it is because they call other animals when they see a dead animal, so people just associate them with death. It is true that humans kill to eat as this article says. We are still different from the corvids though. We are both omnivorous, but we don’t eat human babies. They eat corvid eggs though. I think that’s pretty different. These birds must be really smart because they know that they need these ants on their back for some reason. I like how the author pointed out that animals are curious about us to when he was talking about how the red steers come up to the fence to look at him. I feel like animals know what death is about as much as we do. I mean they understand that they are not breathing or moving and they won’t get up or respond.
-Rachael Gray

lulu127491 said...

Amira Fane

Growing up I always hated birds, I thought that they were dumb and creepy. Little did I know that they are actually quite intelligent. They do this thing called "anting" which is very interesting and helps them get more food. In some cases they do this because they know it brings more ants around so they can eat more. To me, that was the most interesting thing.

Whitney Kriener said...

I must say that A Question of Corvids was an interesting article. I never actually went into the details of birds, I had never imagined that any bird besides a parrot could mimic human speech. I had always believed that Apes and Gorillas were the next smartest animals, at one point I thought that it might have been dogs. Birds are never really what came to mind when I thought of smart animals. I never really thought about birds much unless there were droppings on my mother's car, maybe they were just mad. The article pointed out numerous times why birds are smart like "crows can count" or a bird mimicking human speech. I can honestly say that after this article that everytime I see a bird I am going to wonder if it will start talking to me.

Anonymous said...

Oftentimes, when the significance of something isn’t pushed to the forefront said thing is either forgotten about or reduced to nonessential information. With birds their significance isn’t known amongst average day people other than to be consumed. With this article, it highlights interesting facts about birds and gives them significance. It has helped me how smart and versatile birds truly are. Mara B.

Deja Thornton said...

I never have had an interest in birds, but this article opened my eyes to a whole new world. Birds are way more intelligent than I thought and they are very special animals. They make sure they can do whatever they can to survive, just like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

I found "A Question of Corvids" extremely interesting. I have always put very little thought into how intelligent birds were. I typically just would see them flying around and I was under the impression that they just flew around. This article now has changed the way I view birds. I now see them as the intelligent and intricate species that they are. They can learn and communicate and they know how to work with other animals to their advantage. Overall, this article informed me of how much diversity comes with the bird species.

Nadira E.

Unknown said...

Before the reading I always thought of birds as majestic and amazing creatures just because of the fact that they have the ability to fly and some are beautiful. However, after the reading I've learned so much more of the ability of birds and find it impeccable from them being able to communicate the word yes was amazing and I notice that the certain things birds do that I may have thought was just an animal doing annoying or things I don't understand are actually forms of intellect.
-Khalia Kuntu