Crows have once again displayed their incredible capacity for intelligent thought by creating their own tools.
New research shows that crows are perhaps much, much smarter than anyone has given credit to.
The study has found that New Caledonian crows can actually fashion their own tools by combining several individual items together, which is an ability previously observed solely in great apes and humans.
The use of creating tools is something that even escapes children for years as it requires a great deal of brain power and the ability to analyse a situation for a solution.
"The finding is remarkable because the crows received no assistance or training in making these combinations, they figured it out by themselves," writes Auguste von Bayern, the first author of the study from the Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology and University of Oxford.
Eight crows were presented a see-through box holding a tray of food. To earn the food, the birds had to use a stick to manoeuvre through a small hole in order to push the food to the opening on the other side of the box.
The sticks required were laying near the box, but these clever crows were able to deduct that they could pick them up, poke through the hole and get the food.
To mix it up, the researchers left smaller sticks, unable to reach the food, near the box which could be used if the birds figured out to combine the sticks to increase their length.
Fantastically, four of the eight crows pieced together the smaller sticks to make one larger stick capable of reaching the food in the box.
Alex Kacelnik, from the University of Oxford speculated:
It is possible that they use some form of virtual simulation of the problem as if different potential actions were played in their brains until they figure out a viable solution, and then do it.
Birds using tools isn't anything new as many studies have shown, but the ability to create their own tool as the solution to a problem is pretty fantastic.
Let us never again use the term 'bird-brained' in a negative manner, the crows are probably listening, or better yet, understanding.