Thursday, September 13, 2007


Panty Raids

According to an old formulation, the goals of writing are "ut doceat, ut moveat, ut delectet" ("to teach, to move, to delight"). One web log that consistently teaches, moves, and delights me is Patrick Kurp's Anecdotal Evidence. I especially enjoyed his recent remarks on crows. Here is an amusing story about these fascinating birds, as told by Bernd Heinrich, Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds (1999), chapter 5:
Roa, Konrad Lorenz's raven, raided clotheslines to steal ladies' underwear. Roa had been exploring a neighbor's laundry hung on the line just when he was called. He came, taking a small transportable item with him, a pair of panties. When he got a reward of tasty food, he made the association of panties and food. Henceforth, as expected according to classical conditioning theory, he brought these items on his own to redeem them for savory snacks.

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