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A bird type of intelligence is something to brag about

Q. I see crows around the mall near some fast food places with outdoor seating. They don’t let people in, but they will pick up discarded fries as well as dropped hot dogs and hamburgers. Occasionally, they pick up condiment packets. Obvious edibles are understandable, but why waste time with unopened packets of mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise?

A. Ravens are opportunistic scavengers and quick learners. Anything they find is likely to be investigated if it can produce a meal. Crows have learned to look in takeout bags that people throw away because there may be food leftovers inside. It probably takes a raven only one successful find for the bag hunt to become a common ritual for him and any friends watching him. They are likely to associate the condiment packets with the food available and seek them out for a possible reward. Some have surely figured out how to bite open packages. We should never underestimate the intelligence of ravens. Who knows? Some of you may have discovered that you like mustard on a half-eaten hot dog that you’ve scavenged.

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