Clark's nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana) use gestures to identify the location of hidden food.

Academic Article


  • Heterospecific cues, such as gaze direction and body position, may be an important source of information that an animal can use to infer the location of resources like food. The use of heterospecific cues has been largely investigated using primates, dogs, and other mammals; less is known about whether birds can also use heterospecific gestures. We tested six Clark's nutcrackers in a two-way object-choice task using touch, point, and gaze cues to investigate whether these birds can use human gestures to find food. Most of the birds were able to use a touch gesture during the first trial of testing and were able to learn to use point and gaze (eyes and head alternation) cues after a limited number of trials. This study is the first to test a non-social corvid on the object-choice task. The performance of non-social nutcrackers is similar to that of more social and related corvids, suggesting that species with different evolutionary histories can utilize gestural information.
  • Authors

  • Tornick, Jan
  • Gibson, Brett
  • Kispert, David
  • Wilkinson, Matthew
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • January 2011
  • Published In

  • Animal Cognition  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Animals
  • Cognition
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Passeriformes
  • Social Behavior
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 20838837
  • Start Page

  • 117
  • End Page

  • 125
  • Volume

  • 14
  • Issue

  • 1