New Caledonian crows are skilled at using tools thanks to a straight bill and an extremely wide binocular field of vision, finds a study in Nature Communications this week. This explains how the birds are better able to forage for food with a bill that allows them a firm grip on tools, combined with good visual feedback.
New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) are able to make complex tools from, for example, sticks and leaf edges, and insert them into deadwood or vegetation to dig for prey. Jolyon Troscianko and colleagues measured the field-of-vision and morphology in 18 birds from six Corvus species. Their findings show that, compared with other Corvus species, New Caledonian crows are adapted to handle their tools effectively, much like the morphological adaptations of humans, who can manipulate objects with dextrous hands and precise visual control.