Ravens are smart — really smart. Studies have shown that they can use tools, remember human faces, and even plan for the future. This behavior cuts both ways for humans: Edgar Allan Poe’s favorite birds have demonstrated a tendency to both favor people who show them kindness and hold grudges against those who treat them poorly. These preferences aren’t fleeting, either — they may last for years.
Raven intelligence is comparable in some cases to that of chimpanzees, which are among the smartest members of the animal kingdom. What’s more, they aren’t the only ones upending the “bird brain” stereotype: Other members of the corvid family — namely crows, jays, and magpies — have displayed exceptional intelligence as well. So the next time you encounter a raven, be sure you get on its good side. You may make a new friend who won’t forget you anytime soon.
English lore has long claimed that the kingdom will fall if ravens ever leave the Tower of London. With that in mind, it’s little surprise that the Ravenmaster has been an official — and important — position at the landmark since the 1960s. The current Ravenmaster is popular on social media and has written a well-received memoir about his experiences tending to the clever birds, whose small stature belies the near-mythical status they occupy in England’s collective imagination.