Scientists observing wild crows have seen them do something amazing. Or at least something a bit clever for a bird. They've been spotted taking sticks and shaping them into tools to get worms out of bits of wood. The crows, not the scientists. The scientists probably brought a packed lunch.
The New Caledonian crows are the species in question, with researchers swearing they've seen them fashioning twigs into hooks in order to get food out of logs. It doesn't appear to be a trick they've been taught in order to win big in a South Pacific talent competition either, as the report published by the Royal Society says this is their natural behaviour.
It's been spotted in captive birds before, but has remained unobserved in the wild -- until now. The paper describes the birds' actions with: "...crows detached side branches from vegetation, and subsequently ‘crafted’ a neat terminal hook from the joint that had originally connected the branch to the main stem -- a process that involved dexterous removal of small wood pieces using the bill, but no bending."
Give them a few more years of evolution and they'll be making sandwiches. [BBC]