Crows are wicked smart. Observers as far back as Aesop can confirm the birds’ intelligence and creativity, but in the last century, we’ve started to realize just how sharp they really are. Scientists have confirmed that crows can count, and that they make and treasure their own tools. Crows don’t forget a face; they even warn their kin to watch out for people who have previously done them wrong.
And here we have one of the first-ever recordings of a crow using bait to catch fish. Psychologist and evolutionary biologist Oren Hasson was sitting at a small pool near Tel Aviv in 2000 when he noticed a crow breaking a piece of bread into little pieces. As Hasson watched, the crow dropped the bread crumbs into the water. Suddenly, the crow plunged its head into the water. When it surfaced, it had a fish in its beak.
Hasson returned to the pool with his camera and saw the crow repeating the same technique several times.
“I suspected, by following these unmarked crows, that there was only a single crow, possibly two (one of each nest), which are using the bait-fishing technique,” Hasson wrote on his website. “One way or another, it was a rare phenomenon.”
Other animals have been caught using similar techniques; herons, owls, and even dolphins are known to use bait to lure in their prey. It's another reminder that our fellow Earthlings are much more clever than we like to admit.
Header image via YouTube // Oren Hasson.