Testing for Mirror Self-Recognition in wild Torresian crows (Corvus orru) and other birds in an urban environment (#617)
While corvids (Family: Corvidae) have been the focus of recent studies of avian cognition, this research has been predominately limited to a small number of species and to captive birds. We investigated cognition in a relatively unstudied Australian species, the Torresian crow (Corvus orru) in the wild. Using Gallup’s mirror test, an experiment designed in 1970 to test for an animal’s Mirror Self-Recognition (MSR), we tested wild Torresian crows as well as other suburban birds including columbids, megapodes and corvoids. This involved attracting free-ranging birds to a mirror and noting their behaviour. This test has only ever been conducted on captive animals, either hand-reared or wild-caught. MSR is considered a trait consistent with an understanding of self, which makes the mirror test an interesting experiment when investigating a species’ cognition. Crows were compared to both these other species and to birds in previous MSR studies. Crows showed behaviours consistent with MSR when viewing their own reflection, while other birds either attacked or ignored the mirror.