As we have come to learn, with a high brain-to-body ratio, crows possess an impressively high level of intelligence. They are not only able to complete complex tasks at the level of a seven-year-old child (Taylor 2014:366), they also take pleasure in both clever and ordinary, playful activities.
In our search for an understanding of crow as a historical subject in relation to human, we invariably encounter mythical stories of crow intelligence. What lessons did the crow tales of old have to teach us, and what do our experiences with crow teach us today? How does the crow fit into today’s human, cultural, and ecological context?
For Abram (2010), the discourse of birds is a critical form of communication for all other animals, including humans.
Abram describes five basic phrases in the vocabulary of songbirds: “the song itself; companion calls; begging cries; male to male aggression calls; the alarm call” (2010:270). Where the song inspires us and connects us towards our own language and music, bird cries alert us to danger (2010:273). Birds are messengers of the forest, intermediaries between us and the spirit world. Comparing bird songs to the singing of angels, Abram suggests that birds release us to the spirit world, lifting our hearts to the heights of the sun (2010:275).
As Taylor suggests, a closer understanding of Corvidae intelligence may possibly provide deeper insights into how human intelligence evolved, and that this may furthermore help us to better understand intelligence, and how it evolves, in general (2014:369).