WASHINGTON — "Yet another animal has picked up a tool and put it to use.
Once thought a unique primate trait, toolmaking and tool use have been seen in a variety of animals in recent years. Now add to the list rooks, a bird once featured in European folklore as able to forecast the weather.
Rooks are not known to make or use tools in the wild, but quickly came up with the idea when confronted with problems in laboratory tests, British researchers report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Faced with food that could only be obtained by pushing a small stone off a ledge into a tube, rooks quickly mastered the skill.
And when the stone was placed elsewhere, they didn't take long to decide to pick it up and carry it to the tube, according to researchers Christopher D. Bird of the University of Cambridge and Nathan J. Emery of Queen Mary College, London.