See How These Birds Solve Tricky Puzzles
Talk about learning on the fly: A new study shows that the great-tailed grackle is a remarkably nimble problem-solver.
When presented with puzzles that contain food as a prize, grackles deploy different learning strategies to solve the problem. What’s more, when the rules of the puzzle change, these Central American birds roll with the punches, quickly switching up their strategies to win food once more. (Also see "Clever New Caledonian Crows Use One Tool to Acquire Another.)
This skill, called behavioral flexibility, is still poorly understood in non-humans because it’s difficult to separate it out from sheer problem-solving ability, or how quickly one can perform a task. That makes the grackle study, published in PeerJ on May 3, all the more important for learning the details of bird intelligence.
“When you have a hammer, every problem