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Exploring Nature

Smart Beaks: Birds in the corvid family like blue jays exhibit high intelligence.
Photo from Metro Creative

Exploring Nature

Exploring Nature: Smart Birds

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Which birds are the smartest?

Jays, crows and other members of the corvid family are considered among the brightest birds on the planet. They can remember faces and play tricks on people. They can also hold funerals for fallen flock members.

Jays are some of our smartest and most inquisitive birds. They include blue jays, Steller’s jays and various scrub jays.

In our area, blue jays are the most common. They love to store acorns for future eating, and they are responsible for spreading seeds that develop into new plants.

Blue jays also imitate the calls of red-shouldered hawks to trick other birds into thinking a predator is near.

Crows are also super- intelligent birds and make more than 20 distinct- sounding calls, including gurgles, rattles and croaks.

Of course, various parrots and other tropical birds display high IQs and are noted for their ability to solve problems and use tools.

Scientists have proved that crows remember the faces of humans who have threatened them or their nests. They also hold “funerals” for other crows, although this behavior might be mostly a warning to other crows to stay away from a dangerous area.

Often mistaken for crows, common ravens are also very smart birds. They use tools to retrieve food and have lots of fun doing midair rolls in flight. Found mostly in the western U.S. and most of Canada and Alaska, ravens have a pointed tail and shaggy feathers on the throat to tell them apart from crows.

Finally, black-billed magpies are also considered ultra-smart birds. They scavenge equally well from cougars and wolves and will eat anything from dung beetles to fruits. Sometimes, they perch on deer, moose and other large animals to snack on their ticks.

Corvids are a quirky group and also a very smart group — the big brains of the bird world.

San Marcos Record

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