New Caledonian crows' use of tools innovative, clever

January 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: Crows demonstrate their cleverness with tools (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

Related Stories

Crows demonstrate their cleverness with tools (w/ Video)

April 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 use tools in the ...

Wild crows reveal tool skills

January 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'

August 5, 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 in non-human ...

Recommended for you

Houseplants could one day monitor home health

July 20, 2018

In a perspective published in the July 20 issue of Science, Neal Stewart and his University of Tennessee coauthors explore the future of houseplants as aesthetically pleasing and functional sirens of home health.

Putting bacteria to work

July 20, 2018

The idea of bacteria as diverse, complex perceptive entities that can hunt prey in packs, remember past experiences and interact with the moods and perceptions of their human hosts sounds like the plot of some low-budget ...

2 comments

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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.