torsdag 21 februari 2013

Visit to Bavaria

Christian, Berenika, Auguste, Hugo, Mathias and Ivo
Last week we went to Bavaria in Germany to visit Auguste von Bayern and her research group. She works mostly with jackdaws (Corvus monedula) and New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) which are housed in number of outdoor aviaries in Leutstetten. The New Caledonian crow is endemic to The New Caledonian islands and is famous for its tool-use and abilitiy to solve sophisticated cognitive tests. We only met the crows briefly, but I was totally mesmarized by their soft and endearing calls.

The last common ancester of ravens and New Caledonian crows lived 12 million years ago, which is about twice as long as the last common ancester of humans and chimpanzees (6 mya). An interesting perspective, as I would think that most people (myself included) quite often think of different species of crow birds as "just crow birds".


fredag 8 februari 2013

Top bird

Rickard submissively backing away from Siden
This week we have some constuction work going on next to the aviaries, so the ravens have some time off from training. But as soon as I came out they all fly down to see what funny or edible stuff I might bring today. And all birds want to be first. At times like this, it's good to be the top bird; you just walk around, looking hard and strong, and the other birds immediately retreat  - all fluff and bows.
If you are the undisputed dominant bird, it seems as if little aggression is needed to keep the others off. Just look how effectively Siden (silver ring) shoos away all other birds but his sister Juno (orange ring) - just by walking around in a certain manner.