After the last entry, Council of Crows, I guess I felt the need to delve a bit more deeply into the subject of corvids. My wife, who is usually my first reader, didn’t really like the idea of a talking crow in A WhiskeyJack in a Murder of Crows (there was that darn mistyping of JAck again for me…Ug! See A Tale of the Two Jacks to understand why I hate typing JAck).
She felt it was unrealistic to have a talking crow in the story. Even when I pointed out it was a raven and it was merely mimicking, she still wasn’t happy until I showed her proof it was possible. The easiest to find is Terry the Talking Raven, a resident of the Tilgate Nature Center in England. Terry knows several words/phrases and is a fairly good mimic.
I had originally intended to use the raven in my story a bit more than I had, but I was worried that my wife’s instinct was correct and that it would come off as too unrealistic and unbelievable in spite of the intelligence of ravens. Well, I am pleased to say their intelligence is perhaps actually greatly underrated. I caught sight of a Nature Episode on PBS about two weeks ago that reinvigorated my enthusiasm for these birds’ capabilities. You can check out the entire episode of A Murder of Crows on the PBS website.
In it is shown examples of problem solving, facial recognition, and (drum-roll, please!) tool use. Not only tool use, but they talk about the possibility that these birds may actually be using tools to make tools. Food for thought. How smart are the corvids after all? Perhaps Douglas Adams was wrong, perhaps it is not the mice who are the dominant intelligence on this planet after all…