Wake up with a Smile

Join our newsletter

These Amazing Animals Can Build Their Own Tools — And No, They Aren’t Apes!

crow uses tools

You’ve probably heard of animals that can use and even build their own tools. When you picture an animal using a tool, you probably imagine a chimpanzee with a stick scooping up termites or some similar food. But reshape your image of animal intelligence… because crows are about to blow your mind!

Crows have long fascinated scientists with their problem-solving abilities. We’ve known for some time that crows can use and even manipulate tools to reach food. However, recent studies have shown that these birds can take that a step further. 

crow using tool

Researchers have discovered that crows possess an astonishing skill — the ability to create compound tools by combining multiple individual parts. This remarkable feat, previously observed only in humans and great apes, showcases the exceptional cognitive abilities of these birds.

In a groundbreaking study conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and the University of Oxford, researchers focused their attention on New Caledonian crows. These birds, known for their intelligence, were presented with a series of puzzles to test their tool-building skills.

They started by giving the crows a transparent puzzle box containing a piece of food. The box had a narrow gap on one side, and the crows had long sticks nearby. Astonishingly, the birds quickly learned to insert a stick into the gap to push the food towards the opening.

With that quickly achieved, the researchers presented the crows with a new challenge. This time, instead of long sticks, they gave the crows smaller pieces that were too short to reach the food. However, these pieces could be combined to create tools long enough to reach the food.

Without assistance or training, four of the crows (Tumulte, Tabou, Mango, and Jungle) figured out how to assemble the parts to create compound tools. 

But the really astonishing part was that these birds figured this out within just 4-6 minutes of interacting with the objects.

animal tool use

The most remarkable aspect of this discovery is that the crows invented these compound tools entirely on their own. They exhibited purposeful behavior, using the tools immediately after creating them to aim at the food. The successful crows solved the task consistently in subsequent trials, demonstrating their understanding of the process.

As we unravel the mysteries of crow intelligence, we gain a deeper appreciation for the complexity and diversity of life on our planet. Crows are not bird brains; they are masters of tool-building and problem-solving, reminding us that intelligence can be found in unexpected places.

So, the next time you see a crow perched on a branch, take a moment to appreciate the incredible mind behind those black feathers. 

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.