The Best Toolmakers in the World
By Emma Foster
Once there was a group of crows that lived on an island off of eastern Australia. They were New Caledonian Crows and every day one of them would leave their group of large nests in the trees to hunt for food.
On one particular day, one of the crows named Oliver flew to a tree trunk to search for food. Oliver carefully ripped off a piece of a plant to scoop out some worms from the trunk. In order to scrape the worms out, Oliver bit the strip of the plant with his beak to give the side of it a sharp, jagged edge. After pulling out the worms, Oliver grabbed them in his beak and made ready to fly away.
But as Oliver was about to fly back to his nest he spotted two creatures he had never seen before.
They were tall, wearing long white things that looked like tails to Oliver. They were hiding in the bushes as if they were watching him, but because they didn’t appear as if they would attack, Oliver flew back to his nest leaving his tool behind.
The next day, Oliver returned to the same tree trunk and made another tool just like the one had constructed the previous day. But before he dug into the trunk for more worms he noticed the same creatures sitting behind the bushes and watching him make his tool. This time, they had a strange machine.
Glancing down, Oliver realized that the tool he had made yesterday was gone, and he guessed that the creatures must have taken it. Thinking, that all the creatures wanted was whatever he made, Oliver attempted an experiment. After pulling out some worms and placing them in his claws, Oliver flew close to where the creatures sat and dropped his tool. After flying away, Oliver hid and watched the creatures pick it up and examine it. It seemed that they were taking notes on the way he had shaped the tool.
The next day Oliver made another tool after digging out worms then flew back to the bushes. This time he waited in front of the bushes, and the two creatures came out from behind the bushes. Oliver remained where he was.
Eventually the two people cautiously came closer to him. The entire time they used the strange machine Oliver had seen before. Oliver watched patiently, wondering what they were doing. One threw a couple of nuts down and Oliver assumed that this was payment to him for giving them his tool. After a few minutes Oliver flew away with the nuts, still confused.
But what Oliver didn’t know was that the people were two scientists studying New Caledonian Crows in eastern Australia. They had been documenting exactly how Oliver had built his tool out of the plant in order to get his food. And according to studies, besides humans, crows like Oliver are the best tool makers in the world. But Oliver never knew why they were there or where the people had come from. He did, however, fly back to the other crows to explain what he had seen. The other crows appeared to be very impressed at how Oliver had become a tool entrepreneur. From then on, the other crows considered Oliver’s tools to be better than of all the others when it came to catching food.
“Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?” (Job 28:20 KJV)
Emma has given us another Bird Tale, but this one is actually based on some research she did about this interesting bird. She didn’t tell me which articles she had read, but I found several on the internet. One link and a video are below. Some of the articles found on line try to explain this behavior as part of evolution, but as the verse above says, we know where wisdom comes from. The Lord created the birds with enough knowledge to develop this habit. Crows are known as being very intelligent.
Thanks, Emma, for a very good article. Now we know how the birds must feel when they are being “watched” by those scientist. Keep up the great stories.
This video shows the New Caledonian Crow working with his tool very successfully. His friend joins in the search for worms, but doesn’t quite have the knack of the first one. This was part of a research project of the scientist.