Think like a bird: Planning Ravens

Don’t like to plan? No problem. Just find the nearest raven and ask it to bring a little structure to your day.

Ravens are planners, just like people, a forward-thinking skill that requires a good dose of smarts. 

crow thinking

A study published last summer dove into this skillset in more detail, and found that ravens’ planning skills is on par with those of apes and four-year-old children. Not bad.

In the study, ravens were first presented with a tray of items, one of which was a never-seen-before tool that could be used to get a food reward from a puzzle. The birds had a chance to try out the tool and see how it worked. Next, the ravens were shown the puzzle with food inside – but no tool! Alas! Finally, in a separate area with no puzzle in sight, they were presented the tray of items again. Most of the time, they would take the tool – thinking ahead.

But it gets better. These same birds, when shown a tray with a few random objects and a piece of food, would always take the food. But when that same tray also included the tool (which could be used to get food in the future), they’d choose the tool almost every time… instead of the food. That’s some self-control and foreward thinking. 

If you’re feeling a bit jealous, don’t get too down. After all, they don’t have iphones to contend with… yet.

curious crow