New Caledonian Crow
The New Caledonian Crow (Corvus moneduloides) is native to the French overseas territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific ocean. The all-black, moderately-sized birds have chisel-shaped beaks some scientists believe evolved their unique shape due to the need to hold twigs steady and straight… twigs used as tools!
(images via: Arthur Chapman)
Several studies have shown convincing evidence of not only tool use by New Caledonian Crows but META-tool use: employing one tool to access another, which is then used to retrieve food. It’s estimated the intelligence of New Caledonian Crows rivals that of higher primates. That’s some pretty cognitive behavior right there!
(image via Hawaii Volcanoes Nat’l Park)
Not all crows are common; take the Hawaiian Crow (Corvus hawaiiensis) or “Alala” if you can find one, which you can’t… at least, not in the wild. One of four species of crow native to the Hawaiian Islands, the Hawaiian Crow is listed by the IUCN as EW (Extinct in the Wild) as the last two wild specimens disappeared in 2002. Hope remains for this species, however. Since the 1970s, captive breeding facilities operated by the San Diego Zoo have raised the population of Hawaiian Crows to 109 (as of October 2012). Attempts at re-introducing captive-bred Hawaiian Crows to their native habitat have been frustrated by predation from the Hawaiian Hawk (Buteo solitarius), itself an IUCN Near Threatened species.