The ‘Crow-Cam’ filmed Caledonian crows using the tool to build nests and then storing them for later.
A recent study on Crows has found some solid evidence about their intelligence. Ecologists used cameras to film crows in the wild. The cameras were termed as ‘Crow-Cams’ by the researchers.
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The crows filmed were wild New Caledonian crows. The camera caught the crows in the act of making and using hook-shaped tools. The New Caledonian crows have always been known to use clever tools.
However their tool making and using skills had never been confirmed before. Studying the behavior of the crows in the wild had been especially difficult beforehand.
The tiny cameras were placed beneath the crows to record precious footage. The footage views crows from the angle of the bird’s belly. The team of researchers was able to track the activity of two specific crows over time.
The crows were filmed making special foraging hooks. The footage offers a rare insight into the natural lives of New Caledonian crows.
More than 12 hours of footage was stored through the crow cam. 10 different birds were filmed on the cam. The findings from the footage were published in the journal Biology Letters.
One big money question is still yet to be answered. The question is what drives these birds to use tools? The research was led by researchers from the University of St Andrews in the UK.
The senior author of the research is Christian Rutz. According to Rutz figuring out why crows use tools is the ‘Big money question’. Rutz further shared the tool time caught on camera was surprisingly low.
The crows spent only about 3 percent of their time making or using tools. Out of the 10 birds only 4 of them picked up the tools. The rest of the time was spent by the crows while foraging with their beaks.
Rutz further explained to BBC that the crows switched into tool use every now and then. The process was baffling for the researchers as they did not understand what exactly was happening.
Another author on the study was Dr Jolyon Troscianko from the University of Exeter. According to Troscianko, the team was keen to get close-up video of birds making these tools. As the crows were under completely natural conditions.
Two moments in the videos made the researchers particularly very happy. While sifting through hours of shaky crow-cam video, the researchers found precious material.
Two of the crows were found making and using the hooks. The making of the tools is a known party trick of New Caledonian crows. The act had never been caught on video by crows in their natural habitat. Rutz shared when they found the precious footage it was a high five moments for everyone.
The researchers knew the birds made these hooks. The only evidence was lab experiments and previous brief sightings through binoculars.
Now they had video evidence of the unprompted process in the wild. The researchers found crows snapped off one branch from a forked twig. Then the crows left a small part of the main stem attached to the end.
The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. The research is also a new design for studying wild habitats undisturbed.
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The footage was stored on a micro SD card via antennas. The results of the study have proved to be like ’Gold Dust’ for the researchers.