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Social influences on foraging by rooks (Corvus frugilegus)

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This study investigates the influence of social context on foraging by rooks. In Experiment 1, we show that rooks eat significantly more food in the presence of a conspecific than alone. Experiment 2 investigated the effect of social influences on rooks' preferences for specific foods. Birds were given two novel or two familiar foods, one of which they could observe a conspecific eating. Rooks selectively consumed the same food as the demonstrator when the foods were novel, but not when they were familiar. In Experiment 3, subjects could forage for familiar foods in each of two novel feeders, one of which was identical to the demonstrator's feeder. Subjects did not discriminate between the feeders, irrespective of whether or not the food contained within the feeder was visible.

Affiliations: 1: Sub-department of Animal Behaviour, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; 2: Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; 3: Sub-department of Animal Behaviour, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, Corresponding author's current address: School of Biological & Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London;, Email: n.j.emery@qmul.ac.uk

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