New discovery: Crows’ tidy tools

The latest research reveals that clever corvids not only fashion tools to source food but tidy them away afterwards.  

Carrion crow
The all-black carrion crow is one of the cleverest, most adaptable birds found in the UK.


Good workers look after their tools, and the crows of New Caledonia are no exception. Not only do these clever corvids fashion a variety of hooked tools to extract insects from wood, but new research shows that they stash them safely when not in use.

The birds keep their tools handy by either standing on them or placing them in a hole ready for next time. They take particular care when foraging at height, when they are more likely to lose a dropped implement.“They do seem to get very upset if they lose a tool,” said Barbara Klump of the University of St Andrews.

Safekeeping tools while wrestling prey requires considerable mental abilities, the scientists pointed out. “In a lot of species, including us, performance suffers if you have to do more than one thing at the same time. Or if you focus on one, you can manage that but not the others,” said Klump. “The crows manage to do both.”

Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society B 

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