Wednesday, September 07, 2011

BBC - Clever New Caledonian crows can use three tools

Long-time readers know my love of crows and other corvids (Ravens, jays, magpies, etc). Scientists have been increasingly interested in the intelligence of these birds - rivaled only by a few species of parrots in the avian world, and more intelligent than dogs, horses, most primates, and small children.

These birds create their own tools - and, more impressively, they solve problems in their minds before implementing the solution. Few other animals can do that - as far as we currently know.

Clever New Caledonian crows can use three tools
By Rebecca Morelle Science reporter, BBC News

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New Caledonian crows have given scientists yet another display of their tool-using prowess. 
Scientists from New Zealand's University of Auckland have found that the birds are able to use three tools in succession to reach some food. 
The crows, which use tools in the wild, have also shown other problem-solving behaviour, but this find suggests they are more innovative than was thought. 
The research is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 
The team headed to the South Pacific island of New Caledonia, the home of Corvus moneduloides.
 Finding that the crows could solve the problem... was incredibly surprising 
Alex Taylor
They are the only birds known to craft and use tools in the wild. 
The discovery that they whittle branches into hooks and tear leaves into barbed probes to extract food from hard-to-reach nooks astounded scientists, who had previously thought that ability to fashion tools was unique to primates. 
And further research in the laboratory and the field has revealed that New Caledonian crows are also innovative problem solvers, often rivalling 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.
Read the whole article.

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