Neophobia affects choice of food-item size in group-foraging common ravens (Corvus corax)
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Individuals foraging in groups should develop behavioural tactics to optimise their gain. In novel feeding situations, predation risk and pressure of kleptoparasites may be particularly high and hence may constrain optimal foraging. To create a novel feeding situation, we offered common ravens (Corvus corax) equal numbers of either small (40 g) or large (160 g) pieces of meat on successive days, always in combination with the same novel object. During the first weeks, when ravens were still neophobic, small pieces were taken in larger numbers than large pieces. Intraspecific kleptoparasitism was more likely to occur when ravens carried large food items. It seems that initiating foragers were mainly innovative subdominants. Preference for small items might have decreased with increasing habituation because more dominants were then feeding directly at the source and hence were less likely to resort to kleptoparasitism as an alternative foraging tactic.
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