Mythology and Intelligence of these Birds

Crow - Birds of the Corvus genus

Crow Mythology and Intelligence

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Picture of Crows on roof
"I'll keep lookout while you see what you can find in there". Picture of two busy crows on a roof.

Photo of Crow
Photo of Crow on a railway water pipe.

Picture of Crow with fluffy material
"This will be nice for the nest". Picture of a Crow who has found some fluffy feathery material.

Continued from...Crow - Birds of the Corvus genus

Crow intelligence

As group, Crows demonstrate admirable examples of intelligence and they are considered by many to be the most intelligent birds.   They seem to show signs of planning and communication between individuals.  One of their species, the  New Caledonian Crow (Corvus moneduloides), has recently been studied intensively regarding its ability to make and to use its own tools to obtain its food.   It creates hooks from plant materials, and uses these self-made tools to skilfully remove grubs from logs.

Crows can count slightly.  For example if three people enter a bird observation hut and two then leave, they know that the hut is not empty.   Crows can learn to speak words and short sentences even clearer than parrots.

All crows have the interesting habit of collecting and hiding away bright objects that they do not seem to have any particular use of, apart from their attraction to the object's brilliance.  Despite their remarkable abilities though, Crows and Ravens are very rarely kept as pets or domestic animals. This may be partly due to their mischievousness, which can be annoying.

Crow Legends and Mythology

The remarkable Crows and Ravens have roles in legends and myths worldwide. Their wisdom, intelligence and flying powers were used by Ancient Gods and Kings. These birds and superstitions surrounding them also played a role in the day-to-day lives of people.

In the Nordic mythology the Raven symbolizes wisdom.  The God Odin had two Ravens called Hugin and Munin who flew around gathering news of happenings in the world, and sat on the God's shoulders telling him of what they had seen.  The Greek God Apollo considered the Raven to be a sacred bird.

King Arthur of the English tale of Camelot and the Round Table was said to have not died but have been transformed by magic into a Raven or Crow, although other stories, particularly in Cornwall say Arthur was turned into a Chough or a Puffin.   Legend says that if all the living Ravens leave the Tower of London, a catastrophic end will come to the English monarchy, and the Tower of London will fall.  The "Beefeaters" who run the Tower therefore keep a group of Ravens there - just in case!

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