About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
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This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Has a bird ever "flipped you the bird": A recent study reveals ravens have their own specific gestures

"Flipping the bird" to someone who just cut you off in traffic is a very common human gesture. But what about in the avian world? Do birds raise their wings and tell their fellow birds to read between the lines? Maybe not, but anyone who has watched a bird-feeder knows that birds also use gestures to get their point across.

Flipping Bird
A new study by Pika and Thomas Bugnyar detailed thirty-eight very sophisticated non-vocal interactions between ravens. Published recently in the journal Nature Communications, these recorded gestures suggested the foundation of language.

Ravens use their beaks and wings much like humans rely on our hands to make gestures, such as for pointing to an object. "Gesture studies have too long focused on communicative skills of primates only," Pika said. "The mystery of the origins of human language, however, can only be solved if we look at the bigger picture and also consider the complexity of the communication systems of other animal groups."

Pika and her colleagues would like to further explore the gestures ravens use and discover their meanings. You can read their findings in their online article: The use of referential gestures in ravens (Corvus corax) in the wild

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