For decades, we thought that bird minds were primitive, relying on instinct and little else. But recently, we’ve come to realise how wrong this is. This film explores the very latest research into bird intelligence, including work from University of Vienna, The Konrad Lorenz Institute, The Max Planck Institute, Oxford University, Cambridge University and the University of Strasbourg.
The crow family first started to show us how wrong we were about bird minds. For some time, ravens have amazed scientists with their sharp thinking. They quickly mastered a puzzle with the easiest solution to secure some food. Ravens did this without any trial and error, showing that they solved the problem in their minds.
Rooks form large social flocks, sometimes numbering in tens of thousands. Social interactions could have contributed to the evolution of intelligence in apes, so that scientists ask if the same is true in birds. Rooks’ social interactions have revealed hierarchies and relationships surprisingly similar to those in monkeys or apes.
Recent researches on emotions, one of the most hotly debated areas in all animal behaviour, suggested that ravens show empathy - a very controversial word to use about a bird.
Perhaps “bird brain” is no longer an insult - it’s a compliment...