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The Birds will kill us all!

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Crow shows she's no bird-brain

OXFORD, England -- Oxford scientists have discovered that a crow called Betty is no bird-brain.


Betty astonished scientists by deliberately bending a straight wire into a hook and using it to extract food from a container, the journal Science said on Friday.

The feat, it is said, makes her the first animal other than a human that has shown a clear understanding of cause and effect, and fashioned a tool for a specific task using new materials not encountered in the wild.

Not even chimpanzees, our closest cousins, have this ability.

But Betty's older male lab-mate Abel had a more direct route of securing his meals -- he would snatch the wire or steal the food from Betty. He was not tested to see if he could bend the wire.

Betty and Abel are two captive New Caledonian Crows being studied by Oxford University's Behavioural Ecology Research Group.

In their native home, the South Pacific island of New Caledonia, crows of such species are known to make tools out of twigs and leaves to winkle out grubs.

Scientists first spotted Betty's ability by accident after an experiment to see whether the birds would select a hooked wire rather than a straight wire to use as a tool.

After Abel snatched away the hook Betty was left to adapt by bending the straight wire.

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