Smart Crows Use Tools to Access Food

Smarty Bird, Credit: Chris Bird (Yes, that is really the photographer's name)

The New Caledonian crow has now been observed in captivity using three tools to solve a complex problem, according to an article on the BBC website.   Primates were the only species thought to use tools in the past, but this murder of crows is killing the original theory.

Fascinating stuff!

There was a controlled experiment at the University of Auckland, New Zealand,  where the crow was placed on a perch with a string and a short stick dangling from it.  Also in the cage was a box with bars containing a longer stick and a box containing meat.  The crow needed to use the short stick to get the longer stick to get the meat out of the reward box.  The experiment was performed with several different crows.

The Set Up

Although the length of  time and number of attempts it took for the crow to get the meat out of the box varied, they all solved the problem.  According to the BBC, “… further research in the laboratory and the field has revealed that New Caledonian crows are also innovative problem solvers, often rivaling primates. Experiments have shown that the birds can craft new tools out of unfamiliar materials, as well as use a number of tools in succession.”

Thanks for bringing this information to our attention C. Dopko.

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