Crows using two tools to get food

200708 By Rebecca Morelle Science reporter, BBC NewsA University of Auckland study has revealed that New Caledonian crows can use separate tools in quick succession to retrieve an out-of-reach snack. (Current Biology) New Caledonian crows are renowned for their tool-making ability. The birds (Corvus moneduloides), which are found on the South Pacific island of New Caledonia, use their bills to whittle twigs into hooks and cut and tear leaves into barbed probes that can extract bugs and grubs from crevices. To further test the crows’ tool-using talents, scientists set seven wild birds a tricky task. The crows were presented with: A scrap of meat, which was tucked away, out of reach, in a box; A small twig, which was too short to reach the food; And another longer twig, which was long enough to reach the food, but was locked away well out of bill-grabbing range in another box. Alex Taylor, lead author of the paper, said: “The creative thing the crows did was to use the short stick to get the long tool out of the box so that they could then use the long stick to get the meat.”


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