Exploring Nature: New Caledonian Crow

The New Caledonian crow is the first non-human animal ever recorded intentionally manipulating material, that it would not have seen in the wild, into a purposebuilt tool. PHOTO COURTESY OF JERRY HALL

If someone asked me to name the most intelligent bird in the world, until recently, I would have said the chicken. However, I now have a new candidate to offer, the New Caledonian crow.

This dull black bird from the southwest Pacific is an unlikely avian genius. Scientists were surprised to learn it has mastered the use of tools to help it obtain food.

This crow not only uses twigs to impale grubs hidden in small holes, it is able to design tools to help it do a better job retrieving those grubs. Taking wire provided by the scientists, it bent that wire into a hook, which it then used to extract grubs from a vertical pipe.

This was the first non-human example ever recorded of an animal intentionally manipulating material, that it would not have seen in the wild, into a purposebuilt tool.

The bird was also offered food out of reach but given a stick which could be used to obtain a longer stick in another box. The crow effortlessly worked out how one tool could be used to obtain the other, and acquired what it wanted with the longer stick.

All in all, the New Caledonian crow is a very intelligent bird. Maybe the smartest in the world.

San Marcos Daily Record

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