Animal Cognition

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 69–76 | Cite as

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

  • Thomas BugnyarEmail author
  • Kurt Kotrschal
Original Article


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.


Misleading Deception Raven Social foraging 



We are grateful to G. Kabicher, N. Ortner, E. Bugnyar, and M. Haider for their help with the set-up and R. Byrne, J. Dittami, J. Fritz, B. Heinrich, C. Heyes, L. Huber, J. Lamprecht, and S. Sjoelander for valuable comments. The study was financially supported by FWF-project P12472-BIO and by a visiting fellowship of the K.L.I. Altenberg. At present, T. B. is supported by an Erwin Schroedinger fellowship J2064 of the Austrian Science Foundation. We thank H. Pechlaner and D. Schratter from the Vienna Zoological Garden for the donation of ravens, the Cumberland game park Grünau and the "Verein der Förderer" for permanent support, and H. Lindner, P. Winkler, G. Steinmaurer, and A. Buchegger for their cooperation. The experiment described here complies with the laws of Austria, where it was carried out.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Konrad Lorenz Research StationGrünau 11Austria
  2. 2.Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition ResearchAltenbergAustria
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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