1 Tahrcountry Musings: Surprise - Magpies recognise their own reflections

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Surprise - Magpies recognise their own reflections

I have seen Magpies preening before my motorbike mirror and pecking at their images several times. I had never given it any serious thought. Today I was surprised to read in the journal Plos Biology that the latest research indicates the ability of Magpies to recognize themselves in the mirror. Till recently only humans were thought to have this ability. Then came chimps and orangutans. and a host of other mammals. The research was led by German psychologist Dr Helmut Prior, from the Goethe University in Frankfurt. The researchers placed yellow and red stickers on the birds in positions where they could only be seen in a mirror. The magpies focused on the marks and tried to reach the stickers with their beaks and claws. On a number of occasions they succeeded in scratching the stickers’ off. This put an end to their mark-orientated behavior. When no mirror was present, the birds took no notice of the coloured marks. The scientist say magpies are capable of understanding that a mirror image belongs to their own body. If you are keen to read the entire paper click here


Jacob Cherian said...

Hey Mohan,
I'm pasting the links here as well, just in case you missed them:

video on our site:

you can find the other videos at:

and the stories are at

let me know what you think

Mohan Alembath said...

Hi Jacob,
Thanks for the links.Good stuff