Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World's Brightest Bird

illus. by Guido de Filippo. photos by Andy Comins. 80p. (Scientists in the Field). bibliog. index. HMH. Aug. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544416192.
RedReviewStarGr 4–7—This title takes readers to New Caledonia, where, as Turner puts it, "the forests are lush and the crows are geniuses." Comins's photos supply ample evidence of both. Under the guidance of crow researcher Gavin Hunt, expeditions to the island's wilds provide opportunities to watch the local species of crow display the astonishing ability not only to use found sticks to dig grubs from logs but also to make their own hooked tools from twigs or the jagged leaves of the pandanus—and to train a juvenile crow in the technique. Then later, under controlled conditions in a lab, captive crows (which are carefully returned to their home territories afterward) beat out groups of four- to seven-year-old children in performing feats of mental activity to get at an inaccessible treat. The author also surveys tool use by other wild animals, from chimps to crocodiles, and, with added art by de Filippo, compares the structures of crow and human brains. She closes with more anecdotes about corvid intelligence and leads to further information.
VERDICT Required reading for anyone who believes that we are the only, or even the most, sapient species on the planet. Highly recommended for STEM and animal collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing