Sometimes nature manages to leave us absolutely amazed with incredible and unexpected manifestations. Think of the animal world: we never really stop learning from the creatures that populate the Earth with us, and the episode observed by the scientists that we are about to tell you about is proof of that.
The protagonists were magpies, birds considered to be among the most intelligent in the world, capable of carrying out remarkable actions through their reasoning, memory, imagination, and social behavior. When they tried to test new tracking devices on them, the birds just didn’t want to hear about it. Helping each other, the magpies performed exemplary teamwork in removing the devices. And in the end, they succeeded. Let’s see.
image credit: Luis García (Zaqarbal)/Wikimedia – Not the actual photo
Never force a magpie to do something it doesn’t want to do. This is how Australian scientists from the University of the Sunshine Coast summarize their observations. The goal of the researchers behind the experiment was simple: to learn more about the movements and social dynamics of these wonderful, highly intelligent birds by testing new, state-of-the-art tracking devices. Was it possible? Unfortunately not, because the academics had not taken into account the subjects concerned: magpies!
Visibly annoyed by the small devices attached to them, the magpies began collaborating with each other to get rid of them. Indeed, the collaborative and cunning behavior they exhibited was so incredible that the researchers decided to share it with everyone. “We did not expect to discover such an attitude, it is completely new and rare in birds”, they specify.
image credit: Birdlife.org
Although we know magpies are intelligent and social creatures, the scientists say, this was the first time they had exhibited this altruistic behavior, helping another member of the group without immediate, tangible reward.
A fascinating mishap, therefore, which has nevertheless been the subject of a study. Although the birds’ reaction slowed the search, it was useful and important to see what was going on. Magpies gave the world a wonderful example of cooperation, confirming this ability, which is already known and studied by science.
We had never heard of another bird cooperating in this way to remove tracking devices, the experts said. They went so far as to cut the small harness with their beaks, willingly helping each other . Within hours, they removed most of these devices.
Incredible, isn’t it?