COMING DEAR - Crow Tool Use
By Lynne Page
Tool use in birds is always an interesting topic. Carolee Caffrey reported (in the Wilson Bulletin. June 2000, p. 283) having watched an American Crow create and use a tool after trying to use his bill to extract a spider from a fence post. When his bill didn’t get it, he pecked off a triangular piece of wood, held it with his feet, then hammered the tapered end, making it narrower. With that tool, he probed the hole, trying to make a spider shish kebab. However, he was interrupted by the call of a female crow. He looked toward her, put the wood piece into the hole, and flew to join her. The point of the report was to describe an incident of tool use but I think it raises a more intriguing question. What did that crow hen say to persuade the ‘working’ crow to leave the prospect of a meal of juicy spider-on-a-stick?