Wild crows with tools

Oxford released a video this week of wild crows using tools.

A new study using motion sensitive video cameras has revealed how New Caledonian crows use tools in the wild.

Previous work has shown the sophisticated ways in which crows can use tools in the laboratory but now a team of scientists from Oxford University and the University of Birmingham have investigated tool use in its full ecological context. The researchers recorded almost 1,800 hours of video footage for the study and publish their findings in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

In the wild, New Caledonian crows use tools for many purposes, including ‘fishing out’ large beetle larvae from holes in dead wood. In the new study the team were able to show for the first time that more larvae were extracted by crows using tools than with their beaks.

They also discovered that adult crows appeared to be much more skilled at obtaining larvae than juvenile crows, suggesting that considerable learning – possibly from copying more experienced ‘larvae fishers’ – is required for crows to become competent at this task. . . .

Tool use by wild New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides at natural foraging sites