Brilliant Birds

Crows seem to be able to use causal reasoning to solve a problem, a feat previously undocumented in any other non-human animal, including chimps.

Alex Taylor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and his team presented six New Caledonian crows with a series of "trap-tube" tests.

A choice morsel of food was placed in a horizontal Perspex tube, which also featured two round holes in the underside, with Perspex traps below.

For most of the tests, one of the holes was sealed, so the food could be dragged across it with a stick and out of the tube to be eaten. The other hole was left open, trapping the food if the crows moved it the wrong way.

Three of the crows solved the task consistently, even after the team modified the appearance of the equipment. This suggested that these crows weren't using arbitrary features – such as the colour of the rim of a hole – to guide their behaviour. Instead they seemed to understand that if they dragged food across a hole, they would lose it. (Full Story at newscientist | via marginalrevolution)

I think that a crow would make a very cool pet. I know there would be issues with it, but I would much, much rather have a crow over a parrot (or a cat).