Published in Ecology, Volume 86, Issue 4, April 1, 2005, pages 1057-1060.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Crow White was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1890/03-3185.
We have long known that corvids are adaptively flexible in behavior, but have rarely tested their flexibility and creativity in solving problems outside the laboratory. Through a carefully controlled experiment conducted in the wild, I have found that Common Ravens (Corvus corax) fly toward gunshot sounds, presumably in order to locate animal gut piles left by hunters. This is the first conclusive evidence of any scavenger species pursuing gunshots. Furthermore, ravens exhibited this behavior only when gunshots were fired from within forested habitat, when the shots may be most valuable to them for locating gut piles. Interestingly, raven behaviors suggest that they may have learned the usefulness of gunshots by substituting them for other previously known sounds already used to locate food in the wild.