Jackdaws (Corvus monedula)
Jackdaws are the small brothers of ravens. Whereas both species are closely related and belong to the same genus (Corvus), they differ strikingly in some aspects of their socio-ecological organization. Whereas ravens are the masters of food-caching, jackdaws do not cache at all. From adulthood, ravens live in pairs, but jackdaws live in groups their entire life. Additionally, jackdaws feed mainly on insects, but ravens are scavengers. But also anatomically, jackdaws and ravens differ: the hippocampus, a brain region which is important for memorizing spatial arrangements, is much smaller in jackdaws than in ravens.
In sum, jackdaws appear to be much more social than ravens, making them interesting subjects for comparative studies. In spring 2005 we hand-raised our first group of 20 jackdaws. Since then, we added more birds by hand-raising young jackdaws in 2006 and 2007. Finally, in spring of 2007 we released the older birds into free flight, and those birds still roam the valley. Actually, the jackdaws decided that they like the aviary of the bald ibis, and now both species co-inhabit this aviary. However, we still continue to work experimentally with these birds and additionally run experiments with the birds that still remained in the aviary. For these jackdaws, we built a new 200 m2 big aviary including experimental chambers right at the institute.
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