Study Shows Crows Making Use of Water Displacement to Obtain Food

Posted on March 31, 2014

A new study has provided video footage of New Caledonian crows using water displacement to obtain food. A piece of food is floating in a tube filled with water. The food is too far down in the tube for the crow to be able to reach it with its beak. The researchers have placed objects nearby and the crow makes use of them by dropping them in the tube until the water is displaced enough that the crow can get the piece of food. In one test the bird appears to know that solid objects will work better than hollow ones to raise the water in the tube.

The experiment brings the Aesop fable, The Crow and the Pitcher, to life. New Scientist reports that researchers believe the crows displayed reasoning skills comparable to that of a 5 to 7 year old human child. Take a look:

The study was led by Sarah Jelbert fom the University of Auckland. A research papers was published here in PLoS One.