Corvids (crows, rooks, jackdaws, jays and magpies) have brains of a similar size to chimpanzees (relative to the size of their bodies) and are famed for their sophisticated cognitive abilities. However, as almost all research has been conducted in captivity, we have little idea of the factors that favoured the evolution of corvid cognition in nature. Studies of corvids in their natural environment are essential to allow us to better understand cognitive evolution in the animal kingdom.
The Cornish Jackdaw Project [Twitter], established in 2012, is a dedicated, long-term field site for the study of corvid behaviour and cognition, using jackdaws. Jackdaws are highly sociable, inquisitive corvids, making them ideal subjects for cognitive research. They also have the practical advantage over other corvid species that they will take to nest boxes, so they can be easily monitored and fitted with colour-rings to allow identification of individuals. The Cornish Jackdaw Project incorporates over 100 nest boxes across three different colonies, with more than 1400 individually recognisable, colour-ringed and PIT-tagged jackdaws. This unique system allows us to use experiments, observations and automated tracking of individuals to examine the cognitive challenges of life in jackdaw societies.
Between 2010 and 2014 we also worked at the Cambridge Jackdaw Project, a large field site based in Madingley, near Cambridge
This project is funded by: