Corvids are one of the largest and ecologically most plastic passerines with a global distribution. Since ancient times, they have attracted the human’s attention (both positive and negative) and got the reputation of being tricky and smart. Recently, their intelligence (especially in the social context) was scientifically tested and proven.

Almost all corvid species tend to form social groups usually as an assembly at the food source (dump, carcass), or during the breeding stage (colonies, communal breeding). Forming an assemblage brings benefits such as easier foraging and predator vigilance, but also costs, especially increased competition among individuals. Presumably as a consequence of this competition within a large society, high cognitive abilities and intelligence developed in corvids.

In our research of corvids, we cooperate with the Department of Cognitive biology at the University of Vienna, under the leadership of Prof. Thomas Bugnyar. This research group is one of the globally most competing within the topic of cognitive biology. Their facilities include aviary breeding of several corvid species (and other “clever birds”) as well as free ranging wild populations attracted to food sources. Our cooperation is focused on the ability of corvids to deal with the threat of predation. We use two basic approaches, presenting the moults of predators (raptors, owls) and playing back the alarm calls.

People involved in this research: