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Trust among corvids

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Siberian jays are group living birds within the corvid family that employ a wide repertoire of calls to warn each other of predators. Sporadically, however, birds use one of these calls to trick their neighboring conspecifics and gain access to their food. Researchers from the universities of Konstanz (Germany), Wageningen (Netherlands), and Zurich (Switzerland) have now examined how Siberian jays avoid being deceived by their neighbors. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, shows that these birds have great trust in the warning calls from members of their own group, but mainly ignore such calls from conspecifics of neighboring territories. Thus, the birds use social information to differentiate between trustworthy and presumably false warning calls. Similar mechanisms could have played a role in the formation of human language diversity and especially in the formation of dialects.

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