Special crows now operating vending machines

Animal Story

Crows in a remote South Pacific island have baffled scientists with their ability to build and use tools - and even use special vending machines!

Crow

The birds in New Caledonia have displayed a higher level of intelligence as scientists have observed them solve complex issues and develop clever mechanisms to help them catch prey. One example even includes a ‘fishing hook’ type process, where the crows use a stick to repeatedly poke at grub until the insects become so irate they bite - and are then stuck - becoming easy prey!

The latest baffling development is their use of a vending machine. Here a scientist from The University of Cambridge - Dr Sarah Jelbert - uses a specifically designed intelligence test to see how the birds react to something entirely new. And they didn’t disappoint!

Magpies on Wire

Magpies on Wire

Dr Jelbert explains the test:

“They’d never find paper or card in the wild, so we developed this vending machine that they could drop small pieces of paper into to release a treat - a little piece of meat”.

Tropical Bird

Tropical Bird on a Branch

The birds were initially encouraged to participate in the test by placing bits of paper at the top of the box which had meat underneath, with the assumption that the birds would knock the paper into the hole and trigger the reward. But, as soon as they understood this mechanism, the scientists switched it up and only gave the birds paper which was too big. How would they cope when it wouldn’t be knocked into the hole?

Well, half of the birds very cleverly snipped the paper into smaller pieces - all of their own accord. They even remembered the exact size which worked when probed later, having been given no help.

So it appears these birds truly are innovative and incredibly intelligent - showing clearly the power of evolution. We at Koala Chess Art HQ are certainly impressed!

Migrating Bird

Migrating Bird


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