, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 69-76
Date: 10 Sep 2003

Leading a conspecific away from food in ravens (Corvus corax)?

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Abstract

Active misleading of conspecifics has been described as a social strategy mainly for primates. Here we report a raven leading a competitor away from food in a social foraging task. Four individuals had to search and compete for hidden food at color-marked clusters of artificial food caches. At the beginning of the experiment, a subordinate male found and exploited the majority of the food. As a result, the dominant male displaced him from the already opened boxes. The subordinate male then developed a pattern, when the loss of reward to the dominant got high, of moving to unrewarded clusters and opening boxes there. This diversion often led the dominant to approach those unrewarded clusters and the subordinate then had a head start for exploiting the rewarded boxes. Subsequently, however, the dominant male learned not to follow the subordinate to unrewarded clusters and eventually started searching for the reward himself. These interactions between the two males illustrate the ravens' potential for deceptively manipulating conspecifics. We discuss under which circumstances ravens might use this capacity.