acta ethologica

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 34–41 | Cite as

The performance of ravens on simple discrimination tasks: a preliminary study

  • Friederike Range
  • Thomas Bugnyar
  • Kurt Kotrschal
Original Paper


Recent studies suggest the existence of primate-like cognitive abilities in corvids. Although the learning abilities of corvids in comparison to other species have been investigated before, little is known on how corvids perform on simple discrimination tasks if tested in experimental settings comparable to those that have been used for studying complex cognitive abilities. In this study, we tested a captive group of 12 ravens (Corvus corax) on four discrimination problems and their reversals. In contrast to other studies investigating learning abilities, our ravens were not food deprived and participation in experiments was voluntary. This preliminary study showed that all ravens successfully solved feature and position discriminations and several of the ravens could solve new tasks in a few trials, making very few mistakes.


Raven Corvids Discrimination learning 



We would like to thank the zoos Wuppertal, München and Schönbrunn for donating the ravens used in this study. Permission to take wild birds was derived from Brandenburg. We further thank Paul Sömmer for helping with capturing/field work. The project is financially supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) projects R31-B03 (T.B.) and 16939-B03 (K.K.). We are grateful for the permanent support from Cumberland Stiftung and ‘Verein der Förderer’. We thank the students at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for the discussions and social support. The experiments comply with the current laws of Austria.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag and ISPA 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Friederike Range
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas Bugnyar
    • 1
  • Kurt Kotrschal
    • 1
  1. 1.Konrad Lorenz Research StationGruenau 11Austria
  2. 2.Department of Neurobiology and Cognition ResearchUniversität WienViennaAustria

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