New Caledonian crows' use of tools innovative, clever

Jan 18, 2011
Corvus moneduloides, New Caledonian Crow. Image: Wikipedia.

In a new study, scientists have recorded a breed of crow using tools, such as sticks, in multiple ways.

The New Caledonian , (Corvus moneduloides), named after the islands they are found, are widely known for their and clever prowess in using tools, such as twigs, as an extension of their beaks, to pull insects from hard to reach spaces. As members of the corvid family, which includes, magpies, rooks and ravens, studies have shown, The New Caledonians are the more innovative of the family, bending, shaping and molding the twigs to suit their needs at any given time.

To better understand how the large-brained corvid's mind works, a research team from the University of Oxford presented a group with unfamiliar objects inside the aviaries. What was found was that, with sight of something potentially dangerous, the would make first contact with a tool (i.e. a stick), to ensure the object’s safety, before reaching out with the beak.

Though not highly social, New Caledonian crows stem from small, tightly-knit units whose parents teach the offspring to use the tools. With this new evidence of a bird using a tool for more than one function, it’s now thought avian brains could be more complex than originally thought, joining a higher-level of cognitive thinkers who use tools to achieve multiple functions, such as chimpanzees, elephants and even humans.

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

More information: Citation: New Caledonian crows use tools for non-foraging activities, Joanna H. Wimpenny, Alexander A. S. Weir and Alex Kacelnik, Animal Cognition, DOI:10.1007/s10071-010-0366-1

See also:
Crows demonstrate their cleverness with tools (w/ Video)
Foraging for fat: Crafty crows use tools to fish for nutritious morsels

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Crows demonstrate their cleverness with tools (w/ Video)

Apr 22, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- New Zealand scientists studying New Caledonian crows have found they can use three different tools in succession to gain a food treat. The crows are known to solve problems and fashion and ...

Wild crows reveal tool skills

Jan 11, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study using motion sensitive video cameras has revealed how New Caledonian crows use tools in the wild, Oxford University scientists report.

Crows can use 'up to three tools'

Aug 05, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- New experiments by Oxford University scientists reveal that New Caledonian crows can spontaneously use up to three tools in the correct sequence to achieve a goal, something never before observed ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gwrede
1 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2011
This discovery:
New Caledonian crows use tools for non-foraging activities
leads to this insight:
With this new evidence of a bird using a tool for more than one function, it’s now thought avian brains could be more complex than originally thought, joining a higher-level of cognitive thinkers who use tools to achieve multiple functions, such as chimpanzees, elephants and (gasp!!) even humans.
If these birds heard how big a deal this is, they'd probably quit using them.
TehDog
5 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2011
I was going to mention another experiment, then bothered to check the video linked above...
Somewhat related is (google "cnn dolphin mirror video"). An amazing video IMHO.

More news stories