‘Thought I’d Seen It All’: Crows And Magpies Find Ways To Prove Their Genius Yet Again

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Matthew Nielsen Contributor
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Crows and magpies have found ingenious solutions to combat human attempts to remove them from urban areas, researchers in the Netherlands say.

The researchers uncovered several examples of crows and magpies actively removing bird spikes to use them for their nests instead. Several nests were recovered in the Netherlands and Belgium completely comprised of bird spikes, prompting researchers at the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam and the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden to begin looking for other examples of the unique nest-building technique, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

The researchers found numerous examples of crows and magpies using bird strips and spikes in nest-building. Evidence showed crows were in fact ripping off existing anti-bird strips rather than finding them as detritus, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Mini Pig Defends Farm From Bear)

One magpie built its nest out of roughly 1,500 metal spikes after ripping them off a nearby hospital in Antwerp, according to NewScientist. Researchers from the Naturlis Biodiversity Center discovered that birds had pulled more than 150 feet of bird spikes from the Antwerp hospital, according to a press release from the center.

“I really thought I’d seen it all,” Rotterdam Natural History Museum director Kees Moeliker told The Guardian, adding that  “[t]hese anti-bird spikes are meant to deter birds, they are supposed to scare them off, but on the contrary, the birds just utilise them.”

“I was really struck by the irony, to take anti-bird devices and use them to their own ends,” University of Birmingham ornithologist Dr. Jim Reynolds told the outlet. While crows used the bird spikes purely for structural functions, magpies instead used the sharp metal as a defensive structure, according to The Guardian.