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Do Crows Know How To Use Vending Machines?

Like most animals, crows can actually be trained. In fact, they are quite smart. Studies show that they can be as intelligent as a first grader. But do they know how to use vending machines?

The quick answer to that question is yes, they can. With enough training, they can use a vending machine. For a study, special vending machines were created just for crows to test if they are smart enough to use them.

How Smart Are Crows?

Studies were actually conducted to rank the intelligence of certain bird species. Ravens and crows solve intelligence tests on the same level. But one thing that sets crows apart is their excellent memory.

Kevin McGowan, an expert from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in New York, says that crows can recognize and remember human faces.

They seem to have a good sense that every person is different and that they need to approach them differently. The crows around here, they know my face. They know my car, they know my walk, they know me 10 miles away from where they’ve ever encountered me before. They’re just amazing that way.

Kevin McGowan

Crows are also very innovative that some make and use tools that are similar to a fishing hook.

(Source: National Geographic)

How Did The Vending Machine Experiment Work?

The vending machine experiment is one of the latests studies on the bird species. Dr. Sarah Jelbert from the University of Cambridge developed the study to learn more about the birds’ cognitive abilities. The idea was to recreate a task that crows would naturally find in the wild.

The vending machine concept was simple, the crows would have to deposit a piece of paper into the slot and it would release a treat.

They’d obviously never find paper or card in the wild, o we developed this vending machine that that they could drop small pieces of paper into to release a treat – a little piece of meat. We place stones or bits of paper on top of the box with meat hidden underneath. The birds will often nudge the stone or paper into the hole, or slot – that triggers a reward from the vending machine.

Dr. Sarah Jelbert

Once the birds figured out how to to use the machine, they gave them paper that was bigger than the slot. The smart crows would snip the paper into smaller pieces that would fit. (Source: BBC)

Why Are Studies Like This Important?

Studies like this are essential in order for us to understand how evolution truly works. Researchers all around the globe observe these kinds of animal behaviour to get a glimpse of how humans became the way we are today.

With the crows, we see behaviours very similar to human behaviours – even though they only have a beak and feet they can manipulate things and make quite intricate tools. Delving into these questions shows us that our way is not the only way. And I find that quite humbling.

Dr. Sarah Jelbert

(Source: BBC)

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