Now just so I don't get in trouble for calling the CIA bird-brains, let me say that this article is one I picked up from Listverse, so I'm merely repeating it and not making it up, OK?
CIA-Trained Spy Ravens
B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning (a generic example of which would be giving a dog food in exchange for doing a trick) has proven to be a very useful principle. Many applications have been derived from operant conditioning, including a seemingly innocuous tourist attraction that sprung up in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the 1960s. Called the I.Q. Zoo, this theme park featured animals trained to perform humanlike activities, such as chickens playing baseball, pigs playing the piano, and raccoons playing basketball.
The cheerful I.Q. Zoo was also a government-funded testing ground for other applications of animal training such as espionage research. Ravens proved to be a particularly good subject in this regard. In addition to being able to carry surprisingly heavy loads, the ravens’ intelligence enabled them to be trained to do surprisingly specific tasks, even opening file drawers and carrying file folders.
It was therefore a simple matter to teach ravens to fly to a certain location indicated with a laser pointer and deposit objects, including surveillance devices. Ravens could even be trained to take pictures with a special camera carried in the bird’s beak. The animals would again be directed to a window with a laser pointer where they were trained to press the little spy camera against the window. Each press took a picture.
I'm thinking that with all these trained ravens around, why do we need those highly paid cloak and dagger types. Seems to me that the ravens working for dog food and treats is a much better deal financially, ya know?
Coffee out on the patio again today!