Imagine this: we’re not alone in fashioning and using tools to meet our needs. New Caledonian crows are resourceful tool makers as new footage comes to show.
Footage taken by some New Caledonian crows themselves, with a little help from human friends. The help was minimal. The researchers simply attached two tiny cameras to the crows’ tails. As they picked their materials and fashioned them in the tools they needed, the cameras picked up the crows’ technique.
It’s common knowledge that crows are smart birds. Yet this detail escaped any observations until one decade ago when a team of researchers thought they saw something suspicious with the New Caledonian crows. In the South Pacific island which is their home, the New Caledonian crows were never seen to use tools, let alone make some. Under laboratory conditions, some crows proved their ingenuity and skills. Yet, researchers wanted to test their skills in the wild.
Hundreds of hours spent crow-watching brought meager results and little understanding of how technologically advanced the New Caledonian crows really are. Thus, the savior idea came from the U.K. where two scientists decided that it’s time we used our own tools to spy on the shrew crows.
The result: New Caledonian crows are resourceful tool makers. The video footage was a surprise at first. Blurry and confusing, it took the researchers some time to slow it down and follow it frame by frame. And the results were astonishing. New Caledonian crows use sticks to create hooks for foraging.
The sticks or twigs they usually pick up for their creations are V-shaped. With a snap above the joint of the two branches and one snap just below it, the material is almost prepared. The joint resulting from the snaps will form a hook-ended tool complete with a stick for handling. Armed with this hooked tool, the birds then go foraging for their prey.
If the hooked tool doesn’t fit in the crevices of wood or under the decaying leaves, it will be adjusted on the run. The New Caledonian crows were seen trimming their hooked tools until they fit their needs.
The entire technological process lasts under one minute. With the peeling of the bark or the removal of excess leaves, it might take a little longer. Nonetheless, the hooked tool is a sharp foraging tool that is guaranteed to hunt some nutritious snack.
Photo Credits: Pixabay