Watering Hole – July 19, 2010

When does being called a “bird brain” become a compliment?   If the bird is a crow, then it is a compliment.  Crows are extremely good at problem solving.

As researchers explore the nature of the intelligence of animals, the corvid family presents some arresting examples of brainy birds. The most common corvids are crows, ravens, and jays; other relatives are the rooks, magpies, choughs, nutcrackers, and jackdaws. The familiar corvids are large, noisy, and social, and they are not shy in the presence of people. They play pranks, tease other animals, and engage in aerial acrobatics for fun. Crows live happily in human settlements and have found many ways to exploit the curious human trait of discarding food.The strong social structure of corvids has been widely studied, as have their complex vocalizations and cooperative actions. Pioneering animal behaviorist Konrad Lorenz studied jackdaws in his native Austria; his King Solomon’s Ring reports his interactions with them and observations for their behavior.

Corvids are known to mimic human voices and other sounds and to enjoy the confusion that results. Zookeeper Gerald Durrell recounted the antics of his pet magpies, who learned to imitate the Durrell’s maid’s call to the chickens to come and be fed. When the magpies got bored, they called the chickens, who came running in anticipation of a treat. When the disappointed chickens went back to roost, the magpies called them again, and again, and the chickens, no match for the clever magpies, fell for the ruse every time.

Read more at this link, Cleverness of Crows

More here.

Now it’s your turn to Speak Up.

Passages of the Deep

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This new exhibit at the Oregon Coast Aquarium is called “Passages of the Deep“.  This area used to house the Keiko, the killer whale (from the movie “Free Willy”. They have transformed the area:

In an underwater adventure. visitors are immersed in Keiko’s former home through acrylic tunnels surrounded by several feet of sea water. Passages of the Deep has proven to be an unique attraction. As though they were taking a walk into the open ocean, visitors are able to come face to face with large sharks, rockfish and bat rays swimming above and below. Waves surging against the tunnel gives visitors the impression they are beneath the ocean. And the Oregon shipwreck resting on the bottom increases the feeling of being early undersea explorers.

It was difficult to get clear shots because the fish were moving so quickly, but I tried. It was also really unnerving walking over the acrylic floor with the sharks swimming below..

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