Crows and ravens are members of the Corvidae family, which includes crows, ravens, rooks, jays, and magpies to name a few. The common raven, Corvus corvax, is the world’s largest crow and can be bigger than a red-tailed hawk. The common American crow is smaller. Telling the difference between the two is not easy with just a brief glance.
All animals, including humans, must solve similar issues of food, partnership, sex, home, shelter, and rearing of young, yet ravens and crows are considered to be most like humans in how they go about it.
The likely reason is that ravens and crows make up their solutions as they go along. Often these are surprising, which is why they are considered highly intelligent and have found themselves the subject of myths, legends, and portents of the future. They are the prophets, tricksters, and clowns of the avian world.
Novelty is a passion for young corvids. New objects are preferred to those that they have seen before. It is this curiosity that ensures that any possible item in the environment is examined and catalogued.
In the general solving of life’s problems, there are predominantly two solutions: to go with what has worked in the past, or to go with something new and untried. Every worker in the corporate world has encountered this conundrum. Do I find new employment? Do I dare strike out on my own, or do I tolerate the current environment?
Corvids as a species have been able to adapt easily to the urban environment because of their fascination for exploration. It is a potent survival tool that is most pronounced when they are immature; however, just like humans, their curiosity declines with age. They become more fearful of that which is new.
No wonder they are considered so like ourselves.
Heinrich, B. (1999), Mind of the Raven, Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds, New York, NY: Harper Collins.