STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Crow Smarts: Can Birds Be Smarter Than a Second Grader?

We are featuring the new middle grade book Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World’s Brightest Bird by Pamela S. Turner and photographs by Andy Comins today at Growing With Science blog.

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Crow Smarts chronicles Dr. Gavin Hunt’s intriguing research into tool use and learning by New Caledonian crows.

Why New Caledonian crows? It turns out they have a lot going for them. They are pretty smart. Not only can they use sticks as tools to pry their food- in this case large beetle larvae – out of wood, but also they can fashion new tools by shaping and modifying twigs and stems. As more sophisticated experiments have shown, they have a remarkable ability to solve problems (see some of the videos below). They also have bigger eyes than other species of crows and their eyes are closer to the front of their head, which means they have better depth perception.

Although the special crows are fascinating enough, author Pamela Turner’s discussion of Dr. Hunt’s research is written with just the right touch of humor to keep young readers fully engaged. For example, she notes one of the crows is named “Crow we never got around to naming.” Many of her observations are highly entertaining.

Andy Comins’s amazing birds-eye-view photographs (see the one on the cover above) help us see the crows as individuals. It isn’t easy to photograph active birds in the wild, and he makes us feel like we are right there studying the birds, too.

Whether you have read all of books in the Scientists in the Field series or none of them, you are going to want to pick up this one. Perfect for anyone interested in learning, animal behavior, birds, tool use, or science in general.

Be sure to stop by Growing with Science for bird science activity suggestions to accompany the book.

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It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

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Author: Roberta

Trained as a scientist, I blog about science and nature at Growing With Science, and about children's books at Wrapped in Foil.

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