Research published in Biology Letters reveals new details about the extraordinary intelligence of New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides). A couple of scholars used spy cameras to document the ability of birds to model and use small food procurement tools under natural conditions. Until now, these skills have always been tested in artificial environments, as instrumental crows are very "reserved" animals and therefore difficult to observe in their own habitat.
A close look. Jolyon Troscianko, of the University of Exeter, and Christian Rutz, of the Scottish University of St. Andrews, applied tiny video cameras on the tail of some crows in the Pacific Southwest. The recordings were recovered thanks to integrated radio beacons, which allowed the identification of the position of the devices once the detachment from the bird's plumage had occurred.
Utensils for feeding. The films have confirmed the information acquired in the past thanks to laboratory tests: New Caledonian crows grab the twigs with their beaks and use them to extract insect larvae from cracks in trees or other holes in the ground. Not only: within a minute I can bend the stick like a hook, creating tools that are even more functional for hunting.
The crow does not forget. However, it is another nuance of the corvid's behavior that most strikes researchers, which would place it on the same level as certain primates. "In a scene, " says Troscianko, "a crow drops his tool, but then recovers it from the ground a little later, recognizing its importance."
Rutz also explains that the specimens of Corvus moneduloide implement different stratagems to avoid losing the tools of the trade. For example, by temporarily placing the twigs in the hollows of the trees, "just as a man would do by putting a precious ballpoint pen in a pen holder".
Below is the video posted on the Internet by Troscianko.