Everybody knows that parrots can talk — but what about other birds? When a video of a talking white-necked raven named Mischief went viral, viewers all around the world were surprised to find out that “Polly” isn’t the only one who can imitate human speech.
There have been studies showing that corvids – e.g. crows and ravens – are very intelligent and can mimic sounds, but it’s not every day that you actually get to hear one talk! Even though almost all ravens are capable of learning words, it’s rare for them to spend enough time around humans to do so, which makes Mischief an unusual case. There’s surprisingly not much information on the web about him, but he seems to have been in some sort of wildlife rescue program.
In the viral video, we can see how the corvid is coached by his trainer to respond to vocal cues in exchange for treats, in a similar way to other popular talking birds like Einstein the African Grey. When we watch Mischief in action, it becomes clear why his videos (he’s starred in a few of them) got so popular : in addition to the novelty of hearing a raven talk, there’s also the fact that he’s simply adorable! He’s constantly examining the people around him with a curious air or looking for his next treat — and when he’s tired of regular training, he stubbornly and comically starts making whatever sounds he feels like. His talent and demeanor have charmed many, going against the notion that corvids are shady and menacing.
So there you have it : after talking parrots, talking huskies and sign-talking gorillas, we now officially have talking ravens. Mischief’s vocabulary may not be as impressive as those of famous parrots, but we still give him a solid A for effort (and for the element of surprise)!