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: Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion

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

Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion

1 hour ago

Wolves may be susceptible to yawn contagion, according to a study published August 27, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Teresa Romero from The University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues.

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.