Unexpectedly (or if you know your birds, the opposite), big brains run in the crow family. With a whopping 133 species of crows, is it time to be scared of these little geniuses? Well, just like with any genius like yourself, crows are often misunderstood. Well, here’s everything you need to know plus a little list of facts!

Besides the fact that they’re cool-looking black birds, they’re actually known as corvids (or Corvidae). This family of birds doesn’t only include crows, but it also includes jays, treepies, nutcrackers (not the Christmas decorations), magpies, jackdaws, rooks, choughs, and ravens. They could be as light as a single ounce or could weigh up to almost 5 pounds.

Now, corvids are actually very clever birds. Among all species of birds, the corvids have the largest brain-to-body size rations. Imagine that. Can’t let go of the fact that maybe there’s a chance they hold the cure to cancer. Enough messing about! Here are 10 fun facts you have to know about crows!

They’re Geniuses!

Wait, how many times have we said it? Maybe not enough. This species is exceptionally smart! However, those under the genus Corvus are unmatched and tend to be the extra brainy ones. If they were a person, they’d definitely be the one who reminds the teachers of homework.

The genus Corvus includes the crows, ravens, jackdaws, and rooks. The thing is, their brain-to-body size is that of an ape, not an actual bird. According to a study, the brain of a crow has the same relative size as the chimpanzee brain. 

Crow Folklore

Weird as it may seem, humans have always respected the craftiness of both the crows and the ravens. These birds have given birth to centuries of folklore that project the birds as some kind of trickster, thief, right hand of the gods, or going as far as a supreme being. However, on the shallow level, people have also thought of them as troublesome and spooky. Gladly, people have turned around to see these birds in a new light all thanks to researches that highlighted just how intelligent these beings are. 

Crows are Puzzle-Solvers

Research has concluded that crows are just as intelligent as humans aged 5 to 7 years old. In the video below, they even conquered the eight-step puzzle in BBC. Crows have also been found to use their tools very methodically––sometimes even showing signs of predicting what can happen in the future. 

Crows DO Know Who You Are

Corvids have displayed their ability to recognize human faces––so be scared. Be very scared. Particularly, magpies and ravens have been known to get angry with those who get too close to their nests in the past––regardless of what they wear. In one experiment, it was even proven that crows hold grudges with those who caught and experimented on them.

Crows Mourn for the Dead

Just like people, crows hold “funerals” for those who have passed on. Sometimes, these birds would keep a vigil over their fallen comrade. However, not everything about this has been proven since how else do we manage to inspect emotional intelligence? It could be presented in another light, though. It could just simply be learning about the dangers that caused the death. It’s more of searching for the source of danger and remembering certain elements that could possibly help them keep their lives in the future.

Mourning for the dead sounds nice, but emotions at an animal’s level would be difficult, not impossible, to find out. 

Unlike Some People, Crows Actually Read Traffic Lights

It’s funny but carrion crows in Japan actually use cars to smash their nuts. The crows often take their walnuts, a fantastic crow treat, over to intersections and put them down on the pavement in the hopes of a passing vehicle actually smashes the nut. Once it does, they come flying in to eat afternoon lunch.

It’s definitely risky, but at least these crows figured out how traffic lights work. Red light means to put the walnut down, green light means to fly away and watch the walnut get ran over, and the next red means go down and enjoy the meal. 

A Group is Called a Murder, but it’s Suggested Not To Call Them That

If you didn’t know that a group was called a murder, then now you do. This was an expression used since the 15th century which the Oxford English Dictionary associated with deaths and cries. But why? What’s the use of pinning negative denotations to this genius of a species? McGowan agrees and has said that “these birds are just birds.” He even stated that the American crows are “the most family-oriented birds in the world.”

So much for a murder of crows, huh?

Crows Make AND Use Tools!

I’m starting to think they can be a legit contender for the title of “humans.” The New Caledonian crow is one of only two species on this planet that can craft its own hooks in the wild. One is them, and the other is Homo sapiens. Yes, you heard that right. It’s us. They create hooks from pliable twigs that the crows bend with their beaks and feet into a sort of J-shape. These hooks are then used to take out insects from very tight spots and crevices. 

Don’t Mess With the Gang

Just like any small animal in the wild, crows have to deal with a ton of predators like hawks, coyotes, and even raccoons. To fight them off, the corvids usually exploit the saying “strength in numbers.” When they see a threat or an attacker, these crows are known to gather in dozens. There would be individual attacks that would focus on swooping down and deliver passing blows to the attacker. Whether the enemy runs away or dies, you never mess with a crow––especially the gang. 

They’re Vulnerable Geniuses 

These birds are intelligent, but they’re not as invincible as you thought they were. It’s normal for people to hate crows because of how absolutely annoying they are. It even came to a point where they planned on blowing up flocks of it in America. For one, the Hawaiian crow was declared extinct in 2002 after being brought down by diseases, predators, and even human tyranny. It’s also by a hair that scientists were able to save a few birds to start restoring the Hawaiian breed.


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Lucas Beaumont
Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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