Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Crows Using Tools

Here are New Caledonian crows using twigs to cajole beetle larvae from holes in dead trees.

About halfway through there's a crow that puts a bend into a piece of wire, creating a hook - this after realizing the straight wire wasn't working. Just amazing.

From ScienceFriday.


caulfieldkid said...


You've hit on a fascination of mine.

Here is a TED talk on crows and the possibility of forming a relationship with them in order to get them to do work. His idea is to get them to pick up trash:


I, on the other hand, have a different idea. I draw inspiration from this story:


I want to get a murder of crows to find me money. I would set up a vending machine for the crows. They would put the money in and food/nuts would come out. It's my next business plan. (I'm mostly jesting of course).


Bix said...

Omg, those starlings are incredible. Thanks for that. I love watching animal behavior.

I have a small container of water on my deck for the birds. Sometimes I put out bits of stale bread. The crows fly in (they are big!) and pick up the bread and walk over to the water and dunk, dunk, swish, dunk. Then they eat it. My crows like gravy.

Bix said...

I love the part in your TED video where the crows remembered the humans that netted them once and kept haranguing them.


I swear they can tell humans apart. I swear they do fly-bys at our windows to see who is home (I seem to be less threatening to them than my husband) and how close we are to the back door which is near the bread they want to land to get. Sometimes when I walk out the front of the house, one calls to another and I see them land on the back porch. The blue jays do this too.

caulfieldkid said...

Indeed. I've looked at numerous articles that point out their ability to recognize people. Here is one that explains the process they went about to prove it:


I've often said that if I was going to have a pet, I want it to be a crow. They are fascinating to me. Come to think of it I'm aware of several books about crows but have yet to read one. I need to put that on my to do list.

By the way, you mention that Jay's have similar behaviors. Good eye. They are both in the Corvid family:



Bix said...

I knew it!

legend_018 said...

Really interesting.

virginia said...

I love Science Friday. I often think of you, Bix, when I listen to it.

I discovered the http://www.corvidwriters.org/ website after I took one of their workshops (by chance - they had an empty spot at the table, and I thought: Wonder if I could write?).

The "right eggs" - who woulda thought that eggs would become a status symbol?

Bix said...

I used to listen to public radio more but it's changed in the last 5 or 10 years. There's more sports and Hollywood coverage, less international coverage, more cutesy quips and laughing. Not that there's anything wrong with any of this, but it doesn't reflect my interests as much as it used to. Maybe I've changed too.

Bix said...

virginia, Did you start writing a story on your blog?

Angela and Melinda said...

Shaun, just out of curiosity, is that Richard Dawkins the atheist?
I love crows too--if you're on FB, there's a FB page for corvid news. And other birds--have any of you seen the David Attenborough program on Bower Birds ("Flying Casanovas")? It makes a very strong case not just for tool-using, but for art-making among the birds. Excellent.

caulfieldkid said...

Dr. Mel,

That link was from his site, although, that's not where I originally found it. I just did a quick google and it happened to send me there.

Alas, I'm not on FB. I'm one of the last hold outs.

I haven't seen that program, but it sounds familiar. I'll have to track it down.

I did pick up a book on Corvids from the library yesterday. I'm looking forward to diving into that soon.


virginia said...

Dirty Laundry - yes, a short story. Guess I'll see where it goes.

The Corvid Writers' workshop - that was in 2006, but no story.

NPR - yes, it has changed, but for me, Science Friday is something to listen to after you pick up the kids from school or daycare (even though I no longer have that responsibility).

I like This American Life.

Bix said...

virginia, I hope Dirty Laundry isn't non-fiction!

Bix said...

I've heard Richard Dawkins talk about evolution and evolutionary behavior.

I think it's fascinating how the drive for food (or sex) affects how we evolve.

caulfieldkid said...

They don't just innovate for the purpose of working. They use "tools" to have fun too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YP9RnDp_tms#!