These brief video segments can be used alone or in combination, to introduce a topic or to spark discussion among your students. The video segments can be adapted for any grade level – suggested focus questions are provided. Stream the video segments from the playlist below, or scroll to the bottom of the page to find downloadable QuickTime versions of the videos. These videos are also used in the lesson plan Bird Brained? (grades 9-12).
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. These excerpts from the NATURE episode “Ravens” demonstrate several of these commonly accepted indicators of animal intelligence as demonstrated by the most brainy of all birds-the raven.
Suggested Focus Questions:
Clip 1: Raven Adaptability
- What makes ravens so adaptable?
- Ravens eat meat but they don’t kill it themselves. What kind of animal does this make them?
- How might ravens’ relationship with coyotes indicate their intelligence?
Clip 2: Feeding Time
- What skill does the raven demonstrate at the dumpster?
- When and why might a raven puff out its feathers?
- How might ravens’ caching behavior indicate intelligence?
Clip 3: The Roost
- What’s one theory about why young ravens roost together?
- How might one raven be able to tell if another knows where food is?
- Why would a young raven, having found food, call over other ravens to help eat it?
Clip 4: Testing Intelligence
- Why is it so difficult to measure intelligence in animals?
- Why is it important that the ravens have never been exposed to the experiment before?
Downloadable QuickTime versions of the video segments:
(Note: To download a video, right=click on the video title and click “Save Link As…’ or “Save Target As…”. On a Mac, press the CTRL key and simultaneously click the mouse, then save the link.)
Clip 1: “Raven Adaptability“
Clip 2: “Feeding Time“
Clip 3: “The Roost“
Clip 4: “Testing Intelligence“