Is This Whooper Swan’s Behaviour a Sign of Real Intelligence?

2 Kommenttia

Some time ago I saw a TV documentary where they showed new evidence of birds’ intelligence.  According to the documentary, birds had much better problem solving skills than we had ever believed them to have.

A few days later I saw and filmed something that instantly made me think of what they had said in the documentary.

I witnessed, as I a couple of times before already had, one swan – whether it was the same bird or not each time, that I don’t know – mount a small ice raft and ride it for a short distance on the river.

As I hadn’t succeeded in capturing any of those previous events on video, I decided not to let it happen this time too.

So I focused my camera on the only ice raft nearby and started waiting.

I didn’t have to wait too long until one of the whooper swans climbed on it. That, however, was  no real sign of intelligence as it was running away from the other swans.

But then things got more interesting: Once it was on the raft, it stayed there standing quite calmly and waiting for the ice to reach the edge of the solid ice.  As soon as that happened, the swan left the raft and climbed on it.

But that is not the most interesting part, which was yet to come: After a while the swan stepped back on the ice raft, which started sinking slowly under the weight of the swan.

And what did the bird do then? It just stayed quite still and calm until the ice had sunk deep enough for the swan to just start swimming.

If that is not a sign of the swan’s skill to solve a problem, what is then?


  1. Despina Dimou

    Hello, Olli
    Greetings from Volos, Greece…
    I’ve been enjoying your work for some time now having savoured that presentation-gift at dinner with the rest of the Comenius teachers in early October…
    Of course, I’ve also let my students know about you, who were ecstatic with your photos…
    Thank you for leaving that big of an imprint on us and also about the translation in English – phew… if it could expand, we would be grateful…
    Take care,

    • Olli

      Hi Despie!
      Thank you for kind words. It just loved to hear that you had enjoyed my presentation.
      I myself enjoyed very much showing my photos to the Comenius teachers; you were perhaps the most attentive audience I have ever had. That is why I was a bit disappointed that I never had a chance to know you all better.
      As for your wish to see my blog articles published in English, I am afraid I will have to disappoint you by saying that it just isn’t possible at the moment. Not that I wouldn’t able to do it, but I don’t simply have the time for it.
      Besides, the main reason why I have chosen to blog in Finnish is that by doing so I can best achieve the goals that I have set for myself, i.e. make Finnish people understand the importance of preserving and protecting our beautiful nature.
      If I blogged in English, I don’t think I could reach the people I want to reach.
      However, you message made me ask myself if I should add a short resumé in English to all or some of my blog articles. We’ll see…
      Yours, from still snowy Finland,

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