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15 Smartest Birds in the World (With Photos!)

Here are the smartest birds in the world! How many other smart birds can you name? Let us know below!

While it is challenging to measure intelligence in non-human creatures, birds are definitely among the smartest animals. (Granted, some birds are a bit dumb.)

Today’s article will discuss the most intelligent birds and why they are considered so brilliant.

Ready to learn about the most brilliant birds? Read on!

What Is Animal Intelligence?

Put simply, scientists define animal intelligence based on four criteria: problem-solving skills, self-awareness, emotional quotient, and creative edge.

The intelligent animals on this list below are bird species that meet at least one of the criteria, and some meet multiple.

15 Smartest Birds in the World

Here are the smartest birds in no particular order.

1. Crow – The Smartest Birds In The World

Crows are by far the smartest birds in the world!
Crows are by far the smartest birds in the world!

Crows are believed to be the smartest birds on the planet. They belong to a small category of animals that can use tools, including elephants, octopuses, and bears. 

A fascinating fact about crows is that they also create their own tools from leaves and twigs. 

Crows use tools to find food. Generally, they use twigs and sticks to poke into insects, berries, and seeds and eat them. 

They can also store food like a pro! Yes, crows know which food to consume first and which to store for later. Now isn’t this absolutely amazing?

Another interesting fact about crows that make them the smartest birds? They have an uncanny memory for human faces being able to remember facial features for up to 5 years!

Crows make the “bird brain” phrase sound like a compliment, wouldn’t you agree?

Did you know? Of all the collective nouns for animals, the collective nouns for birds are the most curious ones. A group of crows is called a murder of crows!

2. Raven

Raven on wooden stick

Ravens are among the most intelligent birds on Earth for several reasons. 

They are experts in mimicking the voice of humans and other birds. 

One of their favorite party tricks is to copy the sound of flushing and a starting car! Similar to crows, ravens can also use tools to find food.

Beyond that, ravens can remember the faces of humans and other animals thanks to their “episodic memory.”

These smart birds can play games like hide-and-seek and communicate with gestures, similar to humans. How incredible are these bright birds?

3. Jackdaw

Portrait of Eurasian jackdaw

Along with being super intelligent, jackdaws are among the most social birds. 

Since they belong to the families of crows, both of these birds have many similar habits, including the ability to recognize facial features. 

They can also be trained to copy the speech of humans.

Jackdaws love eye contact. They are the only non-primate beings capable of interpreting gestures by looking into the eyes of humans and other birds. 

These birds also have different calls for different situations, including greeting calls, feeding calls, warning calls, and more.

4. Western Scrub Jay

Western Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica) is a species of scrub-jay native to western North America

Western scrub jays are known as one of the most intelligent birds because of their innovative food-storing process.

While many birds also store their food, nobody does it like the western scrub jays. 

To avoid other birds and rodent squirrels stealing their food, these smart birds hide their food in a safe place and closely watch it. Not only this, but they also change the hiding spot multiple times.

The most exciting and fun part of their process is that sometimes, western scrub jays pretend to hide their food at one location. 

But, in reality, they choose another safe storage spot for their food items. This way, they fool other birds and animals and protect their food. Quite sneaky, aren’t they?

5. Clark’s Nutcracker

Clark's nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana)

Clark’s nutcrackers have earned the fifth spot on our list of the smartest birds because of their sharp memory. 

These birds can remember the location of their food even after nine months of storing it. They do this by noticing the landmarks like fence posts, tree stumps, etc. 

Clark’s nutcrackers must collect around 98,000 seeds throughout the winter to sustain themselves. 

And since they don’t hide all their food in one place, they choose and remember multiple hiding spots.

6. Red-Billed Chough

Red-billed chough, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax, single bird on rock

Found in Asia, Europe, and Africa, red-billed choughs are non-migratory birds known for their excellent acrobatics. 

Along with being fantastic fliers, these birds can perform various acrobatic tricks in the air. 

Red-billed choughs are also proficient with various tools for moving objects, breaking open shells, and picking out insects from the trees for food.

One of the tricks these smart birds use is to break open mollusks and then use that broken part to crack open the shell of other mollusks and eat its content. 

We’d say that’s an incredibly smart way of reusing and recycling! 

7. White-Bellied Treepie

White-bellied Treepies perched on a branch

Found in the Southwestern part of India, white-bellied treepies are also one of the most adaptable and smartest birds on the planet.

Like the red-billed choughs, these intelligent birds can perform various acrobatic tricks. 

They prefer living in small groups and are capable of mimicking other birds.

8. Eurasian Magpie

Eurasian magpie sitting on moss

Also known as common magpies, they find themselves surrounded by various superstitions. 

An old British rhyme says a person’s fate is decided based on how many times the person saw a magpie: “One for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a funeral, and four for birth.”

But this doesn’t change the fact they are one of the most intelligent birds in the world. 

They have a brain-to-body ratio similar to that of great apes and aquatic mammals.

What makes these smart birds truly special is their ability to work in teams and grieve like human beings. Eurasian Magpies conduct a sort of “funeral” when a group member dies.

Not only this, but these birds are also pros at understanding food and portion sizes. 

To feed the young, they create their own utensils and divide the meals into smaller portions. Impressed, aren’t you?

9. Rook

Portrait of Eurasian rook (Corvus frugilegus) looking for food

Rooks also belong to the crow family and are thus considered one of the smartest birds in the world.

A unique and impressive fact about rooks is that these birds are excellent problem solvers. 

Throw any complex social or ecological problem in their way, and rooks will surprise you with their bird intelligence. 

Scientists conducted an interesting experiment on these birds to understand their intelligence. 

A rook was presented with a half-filled water bottle that had a worm flowing on it. The rook wanted to eat the worm but was aware that its beak wouldn’t reach the worm. 

So, to have dinner, the rook brought multiple stones and dropped them into the bottle. This raised the water level, and the rook could enjoy its meal.

10. Woodpecker Finch

A selective focus shot of a woodpecker finch

Natives to the Galapagos Islands, woodpecker finches are not your usual large woodpecker birds. Instead, woodpecker finches belong to the finch family and are pretty small.

The reason finches are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds is because of their mastery of tools. 

These birds build various sharp and practical tools with the help of twigs, leaves, sticks, and even cactus spines.

11. African Grey Parrot

African Grey Parrot closeup

Bagging the eleventh spot on our list of the smartest birds in the world are African grey parrots. 

Not only do these types of parrots have excellent brainpower, but they are a treat to the eyes too!

African grey parrots are one of the most beautiful birds, with an impressive capability of learning up to 1,000 different words! 

They are also experts in mimicking human speech and other sounds. 

Research has revealed that African grey parrots have the emotional and mental capacity of 5-year-old children.

12. Fork-Tailed Drongo

Fork-tailed Drongo, Dicrurus adsimilis

These small birds with glossy black hair are experts in deceiving other species of birds and stealing their food.

Thanks to their wit, these smart birds can devise creative ways to steal food for their daily meals.

One of their favorite tricks is to make false alarm calls to scare the birds away from their food. Then, once the coast is clear, fork-tailed drongos take away the other birds’ meal!

While they are incredibly cunning, they also help other birds and protect them from predators.

On spotting danger, fork-tailed drongos make a loud warning call to alarm the other birds and animals about the presence of predators.

13. Kea

Kea Mountain Parrot flying

Keas are native to the South Island of New Zealand. They belong to the families of parrots and are intelligent birds like them too. 

In fact, scientists believe that keas are as smart as a 4-year-old child!

Keas are great at pulling and pushing different objects to acquire food. They also create various tools to pluck berries and poke insects for their meals. 

Since they live in harsh environments, they have also developed problem-solving skills and can adjust to complex social dynamics.

14. Cockatoo

White Cockatoo parrot bird

Cockatoos are beautiful and friendly birds that can be easily domesticated. They are also one of the most intelligent birds in the world. 

Some scientists believe that these birds are more intelligent than toddlers!

These birds also have a penchant for dancing. You can often find them dancing to music and having a great time! 

Another fascinating fact about these birds? They are excellent at co-parenting. 

Unlike other birds, cockatoos believe in a team effort, and once their offspring are born, both parents take turns looking after their babies. Now isn’t this super adorable and smart?

15. Macaw

Hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) closeup

Macaws also belong to the family of parrots and are believed to be the second most intelligent parrots in the world.

Native to Mexico, Central, and South America, these birds are so smart (and a bit of a foodie, too!) that they can find their favorite seeds from a bowl full of different nuts and seeds.

These smart birds also use different sounds for different purposes. For example, they have unique calls for communicating danger and making their territory. 

And they even share hunting tips and secrets with their buddies! 

Due to their social nature, macaws are one of the most commonly domesticated birds. 

Their bird intelligence level is quite similar to that of human toddlers. They demand attention, toys, and treats from their owners.

And if denied, they sulk or show tantrums like toddlers. Intelligent or difficult? You decide!

Final Words on the Smartest Birds

From North America to Oceania, our planet is filled with smart animals, and birds are definitely among this select group.

If you know more birds that could be added to this list, feel free to drop their names below. We’d love to hear from you!

That’s it for smart birds! Please help us spread the word, and share this article with your friends!

15 Smartest Birds in the World

1. Crow

2. Raven

3. Jackdaw

4. Western Scrub Jay

5. Clark’s Nutcracker

6. Red-Billed Chough

7. White-Bellied Treepie

8. Eurasian Magpie

9. Rook

10. Woodpecker Finch

11. African Grey Parrot

12. Fork-Tailed Drongo

13. Kea

14. Cockatoo

15. Macaw


Thursday 29th of December 2022

The African honey eater is a very smart bird as well. They actually participate in mutually beneficial relationships with humans! They will guide humans to a hive so the humans can gather the honey. In return, the people will leave a portion of the honey for the bird. Truly remarkable behavior!