Latest Video Confirms New Caledonian Crows as Toolmakers

Latest Video Confirms New Caledonian Crows as Toolmakers

Something never seen before video has been captured by two University of Exeter behavioral ecologists in the United Kingdom. From past one decade, the South Pacific island-dwelling crows are known for their shrewd tool-use. The latest video shows how New Caledonian crows actually make their own hook-shaped tools for foraging. Scientists observed New Caledonian crows for hundreds of hours in their natural habitat, but have been able to gain only small glimpse of the behavior. The due built tiny cameras and attached it on the feathers of the crow to capture video of the wild crows foraging behaviors.

They have been successful in recording the crow using a hook-shaped tool to pull grubs, insects, larvae, and other tasty morsels from crevices in logs and from beneath leaf litter. Researchers said that looking once at the video will not clear you anything as the cameras are bouncing all over the place making the video wobbly mess. But, when they look at frame by frame, they were able to spot the crow shaping a stick into a hooked tool. Jolyon Troscianko, one of the study's authors, said the crow uses a twig with a V-shape in it to make the tool. The bird snaps the stick in two places, just above the joint where the twig branches and just below it. That joint then forms a small hook at the end of a long, handle-like stick.

To shape the tool, the bird peels bark off the stick, removes any leaves attached, and will work the end to fashion it into a sharp hook. The complete process of shaping the tool takes around one minute, but can take even longer if fails in initial attempt. It is not that crows are the only creatures that make tools, other animals in the animal kingdom also make tools but manufacturing tools is exceedingly rare. Researchers cited an example of Chimpanzees, one of the humans’ closest living relatives, who manufacture things, but crows are at par with the chimpanzees in terms of complexity. Another creature that habitually uses tools is the Galápagos woodpecker finch that uses cactus spines to get insects out of crevices.

Recently, researchers observed parrots in an aviary using pebbles and date pits to grind up shells to create calcium powder for a nutritious snack. Troscianko said conducting further research might help them understand the evolution of tool use.

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