Source: Nature: "Ravens"
Major corporate support for the Nature collection was provided by Canon U.S.A. and SC Johnson. Additional support was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the nation’s public television stations.
The innate intelligence of ravens has allowed them to survive in harsh environments. Ravens achieve mastery and possess manipulative powers over other creatures in their domain; often letting others do work for them. In this video segment from Nature, ravens call on coyotes to help them with a prospective meal. After the coyotes expose the carcass, the meat is made accessible to the birds.
The traditional view of birds was that they simply acted by a set of inherited instincts, but new scientific research is revealing a larger role for complex cognitive processes in their behavior, including communication, counting, memory, and basic problem solving. Ravens, known as the brainiest of all birds, demonstrate several of these commonly accepted indicators of animal intelligence.
Ravens are members of the crow family, along with jays, magpies and crows themselves. But they're the biggest and most intelligent.
They need to be intelligent to survive such different places – to work out how to find food, whatever the local conditions, even those as harsh as the Wyoming winters of Yellowstone National Park.
Ravens survive by eating almost anything. They will eat fruits and insects, hunt small game, steal eggs. But if it's available, they prefer meat.
For big game, they rely on large predators to do the work. They are often the companions of wolves and bears. But a cruel winter may be their best partner. And ravens aren't the only scavengers at a winter kill.
Coyotes also live by their wits. Like ravens, they have to be both tough and flexible.
The temperature, here, rarely gets above freezing for months on end and strong winds make the cold more intense. With deep snow covering the ground, there's little food for the bison.
Steam from Yellowstone’s geysers offers some refuge from the bitter cold …
but eventually, a failing bison must meet its fate.
All the ravens need is patience.
As fellow scavengers, the coyotes compete with the ravens for precious food, but in this case, the ravens need the coyote's help.
The coyotes, equipped with teeth and jaws, can tear open the tough, frozen hide – which the ravens can't do on their own.
For all scavengers, the chances of finding food are unpredictable. Ravens know how and when to take advantage of other animals and get their help in finding food. Such intelligence is crucial to their survival.
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