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We are Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken. And we're tracking down
the most awesome, incredible and epic things in the universe!
Come with us and discover
unbelievable things that will blow your mind!
Blow Your Mind will be bringing you all the top experts on the planet.
From icebergs to elephants, spaceships to sharks.
Look at that!
And this week, it's all about amazing animals.
So, how long's your brain?
Here's what's coming up.
Today, we're focusing on our feathered friends.
They're all around us
and you probably don't realise how clever they are.
Today, we'll discover the brainiest bird in the whole world,
and watch a bird beat a dog and a human
to solve a complex, mind-bending puzzle.
All this week we're going to be witnessing animals doing
absolutely amazing, mind-blowing things.
Chris, do your mind-blowing thing.
Oh, with my... Hang on.
Amazing. Look at how close he gets it to his nose.
Do your amazing thing where you wiggle your ears.
Really up and down.
Yeah! Now, that is impressive.
Well, if you enjoyed that, then there is plenty in store today
that is guaranteed to knock your socks off.
Chris Packham is off on his travels.
Where's he going? He normally holidays in Weston-super-Mare.
Nowhere that exotic, I'm afraid.
He's off to an island paradise off the coast of Australia
called New Caledonia.
And you won't believe your eyes
when he comes face-to-face with the world's smartest bird.
Prepare to be amazed!
Lying nearly 1000 miles east of Australia,
the island of New Caledonia.
It's a tropical paradise,
bursting with exotic life found nowhere else on the planet.
I'm here to find one of these unique animals.
It has an almost legendary status,
thanks to an amazing ability to solve problems.
It's this. A crow.
But not just any crow.
This is the New Caledonian crow.
It's not the same species that we find in Britain.
These are jungle birds.
And here, in isolation on the island,
they've evolved some remarkable abilities.
This one is holding a nut in its claw.
It dropped it onto the tarmac,
seemingly to crack open the hard shell.
But it's what the bird does next that's really ingenious.
Now, look at this. This is interesting because
having broken the nut open on the road,
these birds are then carrying it to the Armco here,
where there are small depressions, man-made cuts in it,
and they're using these as a vice, to stop the nut from rolling around,
whilst they access the fruit on the inside of it.
Now, that strikes me as pretty clever.
So, hold on a second. This amazingly clever,
brainy bird that we've been waiting for is a crow?
I've got them in my garden.
But not like this one.
This one really is intelligent.
He's worked out that, in order to open that nut,
it's got to be wedged into something, where it won't roll away.
It is like when you have an egg and soldiers for breakfast,
you have to put it in an egg cup.
Like my favourite chicken egg cup!
Yeah, it's basically exactly the same thing that the crows do with the nut.
So, this crow is as intelligent as Chris is at breakfast,
which isn't that intelligent,
but they can do a whole lot more.
Check this out.
To find out what else these crows can do, Chris has come to visit
Dr Alex Taylor at his field aviary here on the island.
To study how these birds solve problems,
he's put a tasty morsel of food deep in a container.
He's testing whether they can work out how to reach it using
lots of different objects he's placed in the enclosure.
But first, he's going to try his puzzle out on Chris.
Imagine that you're a crow. Here is your food in a deep hole.
How would you go about,
with the tools are available to you on this table, solving this problem?
This is part of it, obviously.
At my disposal, I have a short stick on a piece of string.
Three stones inside the cages,
and a longer stick trapped in a box.
Which means, then, that the crow is going to use this stick...
-..to get the stones out of there.
Next, the crow needs to drop the stone onto a trap door
to release the long stick.
It'll need all three stones, then it probably will drop that one out.
And using this long stick, it will finally be able to reach the food.
-This is a tough one. All right. Can I stay here?
-You can sit and watch and we'll see what happens.
-Come on, then.
Send in your mastermind, because it's going to need that.
Alex studies wild birds,
which he releases after three months of research.
This one is nicknamed 007, and it's about to attempt what Alex believes
is one of the most complex tests of the animal mind ever constructed.
The bird is familiar with the individual objects.
But this is the first time he's seen them arranged like this.
Eight separate stages that must be completed in a specific order
if the puzzle is to be solved.
And if the bird succeeds, it will be a world first.
So, will Special Agent Crow 007 have a licence to thrill,
or will he be left shaken and stirred by the experiment?
All right, all right, with the James Bond puns.
Let's see if 007 can complete the mission!
He takes time to have a look. And then starts with the short stick.
He finds it's too short to reach the food.
He then sets off to get the first stone.
But he drops it.
He seems to be stuck.
Then, something seems to click.
He deploys the first stone.
And then another.
The eighth and final stage.
Eight individual stages of one complex puzzle completed.
Now THAT was a mission the real James Bond would have been proud of.
But how did that crow do it?
Was 007 acting on instinct without any real understanding?
Well, we're not entirely sure.
But to try and find out, Chris Packham went to Somerset
to meet a very special raven called Bran.
This is Lloyd Buck.
He handles birds for TV and film.
And this is Bran, he's a raven,
one of the largest members of the crow family.
What a stunner.
Bran is clearly a bird who knows his own mind.
In fact, it's hard to know who's in charge.
Myself and my dogs, you know, I'm the pack leader.
What about you and Bran? Who's boss?
Well, I think obviously Bran.
-As far as he's concerned, I'm his mate.
-Right, his "mate".
It's going to be a long-term relationship,
because they're a long-lived bird, aren't they?
Yeah, in captivity, up to 40, 50, even 60 years.
He's going the distance with you.
Yeah, and they're really time-intensive.
You can't just forget him and leave him in his aviary.
He likes to go out for his fly, his walk every day, he wants to see
you, he wants to spend time with you, because they're so intelligent.
To keep his demanding bird occupied,
Lloyd likes to set Bran difficult problems to solve.
Lloyd places a piece of food inside a plastic bottle
and then crushes it.
And we give him a bowl of water.
-A bowl of water?
With the bottle crushed, the food is trapped behind the restriction.
But this doesn't stop Bran.
First, he adds water.
Next, he spins it,
and the liquid carries the food past the restriction and out.
He's got it! Honestly!
What about that? Now, that's impressive!
That was incredible.
But what have you got going on here?
So, this is a puzzle designed by Chris Packham.
The last thing we saw Bran do,
getting the meat out of the bottle, he kind of could have learned
that from a human, so this is a puzzle he's never seen before.
This is the ultimate test for Bran.
And Chris is making it competitive.
Oh, so who's he competing against?
Well, he's up against another super-smart animal, a poodle,
two poodles, in fact, Chris Packham's own dogs, Itchy and Scratchy.
-Wow, that is going to be interesting.
-That's not all.
Bran is also up against a two-year-old human, Fletcher,
-who is the same age as him.
So we're going to find out who's the more intelligent, a dog,
a crow or a human being.
But how does the test work?
Well, they're all going to have to open this door.
Pull out the box.
And then lift the lid.
And the prize is inside the ball.
Well, I'm rooting for Fletcher, I have to say.
Let's hope he doesn't let the whole human race down.
We've given all of our contenders the chance to familiarise themselves
with parts of the puzzle box.
-Who's a good boy?
-As usual, Lloyd leaves Bran to it.
'Fletcher is also showing an interest in how it works.'
Right, Itch, concentrate. Look...
'Whereas I need to be a bit more hands-on.'
Now, look, look...
Watch this, watch. This is the sort of thing my mother would have done.
And now the moment of truth has come.
The contenders are about to face the test proper for the first time.
This is Raven vs Dog vs Human.
Itchy, solve this.
Solve that. And I'll be back. Sort it.
And that, I'm afraid to say, is an emphatic win for Bran
and all of his corvid kind.
That was properly mind-blowing. I've got to see it again in slow motion.
-Slow motion, slow motion.
Bran goes straight to work.
He's pulling open that door easily.
And now it's open, he's going for the smaller box.
He pulls it out very easily with his beak. Puts it on the ground.
And he's going for the lid.
The lid comes off.
Ball comes out.
And now, here's the reward.
Yes, Bran destroyed that puzzle in just 12 seconds.
Itchy and Scratchy the poodles
and Fletcher the baby just didn't stand a chance, did they?
It's unbelievable. Crows and ravens are really, really smart.
And it's not just crows and ravens.
Coming up, we've got a parrot that can pick a lock,
and the crow that can plan for the future, and a bird that
understands Archimedes' principle of water displacement.
I don't understand that.
That's because you never take a bath, but don't worry,
all will be revealed later on this afternoon
when we show you some stuff that will blow your mind!