The crows are getting smarter

On Saturday, I was walking along Beach Drive in West Seattle, on the lookout for waterfowl of interest.

Seattle is full of crows, so I didn't pay much attention to the ones I saw hanging out by the beach, until I heard something drop.

A crow had been sitting on a telephone wire above Beach Drive and it had dropped something. I didn't think much of it. Crows are curious sorts and they're always picking up random stuff in hopes that there's food inside.

I kept walking. A few seconds later, I heard the same dropping sound — the sound of a rock hitting pavement. I turned around to see the crow swooping down to the road to pick up the rock or whatever it was.

The crow then alighted back onto the telephone wire, where it proceeded to drop the rock again.?? This was getting interesting.

So I watched as the crow continued to swoop down, pick up the rock, and fly back up to the wire. Then I realized, the crow was dropping the rock whenever a car was approaching.

I watched the crow repeat the dropping trick three or four times.?? Each time, the bird would settle on the wire and wait for a car.

Finally, I walked over to see what the rock was. Turns out, it was a shell, some sort of nautilus. The shell was very thick. Stomping on it with my foot (I was trying to help a bird out!) didn't even dent it.

So this crow had figured out quite a few things.?? First, it knew it couldn't open the shell. Second, it knew a car is heavy. Third, it knew that it could sit on the wire above the road and drop the shell as a car neared.

Surely it's only a matter of time before they're selling us iPods at a substantial markup…

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