18: Corvid Research

Kaeli Swift, Ph.D. joins us today to discuss her research on a genus of bird you are certainly familiar with. The genus is Corvus and birds within this genus include, crows, ravens, rooks, and jackdaws. In the episode Dr. Swift tells us about her fascinating research on crow behavior, including how crows respond to dead crows, she explains the concept of “crow funerals”, as well as some of the more complex behavioral traits possessed by crows and ravens including, facial recognition, problem-solving, and tool creation.

As you know, crows and ravens permeate human mythology and origin stories. There is something about the relationship these birds have with humans that is ancient and deeply seeded in our psyche. This conversation with Dr. Swift illustrates why crows and ravens hold such a prominent spot in both our ancient past and our daily lives.


“What species of island crow, other than the New Caledonian Crow has also been shown to use tools?”

I recommend checking out the list of Corvus species on Wikipedia… take your best guess! Click the “Answer” tab after you’ve made your guess!

Hawaiian Crow  or  Alala18- Corvid Research | Kaeli Swift, Ph.D.

The Hawaiian crow has been shown to make tools in captivity. This species of crow was declared extinct in the ’90s, however, captive-bred animals are now being released into the wild. 

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