Zooillogix

Magpies Recognize Themselves

A German researcher has proven that a species other than a mammal is capable of recognizing its own reflection: the magpie. In order to test this theory, Chancellor Helmut Prior of the Goethe University stuck stickers on a group of hand-reared magpies in places that the magpies could only see in a mirror. When the magpies noticed themselves in the mirror, with stickers attached, they immediately attempted to remove the stickers with their beaks and claws. Red and yellow stickers elicited this reaction; black stickers did not. Either way, when no mirrors were present the magpies carried on unknowingly with the stickers stuck to them.

i-c27983f315a9384433180898b2bff43a-Magpie II.jpg
Edo pergamenta ergo sum

Dr. High Chancellor Prior published his findings IN DER SPIEGAL!!! First of all, if you read that last sentence and then yell the last phrase out with a heavy German accent it’s hilarious. Second of all, he actually published his findings in PLoS Biology.

Though it would be presumptuous to propose that there is any level of self-consciousness or awareness in the birds, it is not to assume that they think that they’re pretty sweet.

Comments

  1. #1 BlueMako
    August 19, 2008

    I wonder, has this been tried on any other corvids?

  2. #2 Christopher Taylor
    August 19, 2008

    It seems the magpies are doing are better job of recognising themselves than other people are ;-P….

    That’s not a magpie in the photo, that’s a mudlark.

  3. #3 The Ridger
    August 19, 2008

    Well, beaten to it by a better commenter. I knew it wasn’t a magpie, anyway!

  4. #4 Benny
    August 19, 2008

    What are you guys talking about? You’re all crazy.

  5. #5 Liz Carter
    August 19, 2008

    Mudlarks have white on their faces. Zing! I vote magpie.

  6. #6 Sheri Williamson
    August 20, 2008

    Slowly but surely the myth of mammalian supremacy crumbles…

  7. #7 Gindy
    August 20, 2008

    I know that the hummingbirds that frequent my feeders recognize me. I am the only one that fills up the feeders and I am the only one they do not fly away from.
    The same thing happens when I walk in our woods. The birds know who I am and do not give out warning calls. If someone else walks there, they give out lots of warning calls.
    It would not surprise me if other birds could recognize themselves, but I think it would have to be experimented on outside of the breeding season. I have seen many male cardinals attack their own images in mirrors or car chrome bumpers. Bluebirds do it too.

  8. #8 Christopher Taylor
    August 21, 2008

    Mudlarks have white on their faces. Zing! I vote magpie.

    Because Benny surreptitiously replaced the mudlark photo with a magpie photo when the mistake was pointed out ;-) .

  9. #9 zay?flama
    August 22, 2008

    I know that the hummingbirds that frequent my feeders recognize me. I am the only one that fills up the feeders and I am the only one they do not fly away from.

  10. #10 Encefalus
    August 27, 2008

    This a research that holds great interest for the study of consciousness. Magpies are smart as it seems :)

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