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Relationships Between Social Structure and Response To Novelty in Captive Jackdaws, Corvus Monedula L. Ii. Response To Novel Palatable Food

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The response of captive handreared jackdaws, Corvus monedula, in six groups, to novel palatable food was tested. i) Each group was tested as a whole. ii) Novel food (cockroaches, Periplaneta americana) was provided in a dish in a test room which the birds could enter from their home aviary at will. Ordinary food was simultaneously provided ad lib. iii) In each group one or two birds were most active in the approach and the feeding on the novel food, as measured by frequency of initiation of bouts of approach and feed and/or duration of feeding. iv) Birds that initiated most feeding bouts were the most likely to spend longest durations of feeding on the novel food. v) In all six groups the "initiators" were of mid of low social rank. vi) Socially top ranking birds were distinguished from all others by the combination of two features; (a) they did not act as initiators, and (b) they were not the last to peak in their duration of feeding on the novel food. These results are similar to those obtained for the response of the jackdaws to novel space. It gives further support to the idea that individual response to novelty is related to the social structure. Mid or low ranking individuals may benefit from being more exploratory, while top ranking birds may benefit more by being more conservative.

Affiliations: 1: Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour, Madingley, Cambridge, England

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