Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
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Ignorant hooded crows follow knowledgeable roost-mates to food: support for the information centre hypothesis

G. A. Sonerud

G. A. Sonerud

Department of Biology and Nature Conservation, Agricultural University of Norway, PO Box 5014, N-1432 Ås, Norway

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C. A. Smedshaug

C. A. Smedshaug

Department of Biology and Nature Conservation, Agricultural University of Norway, PO Box 5014, N-1432 Ås, Norway

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and
Ø. Bråthen

Ø. Bråthen

Department of Biology and Nature Conservation, Agricultural University of Norway, PO Box 5014, N-1432 Ås, Norway

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    Communal roosting in birds may function to enhance foraging efficiency, as explained by the information centre hypothesis, which predicts that successful foragers return from the roost to the rewarding food patch and that birds ignorant of this food follow knowledgeable roost–mates. We tested these predictions by exposing 34 radio–tagged, free–ranging, flock–living hooded crows (Corvus corone cornix) to a novel experimental set–up mimicking a superfluous food patch with maximum temporal and spatial unpredictability. Each replicate lasted two days and was located on a new site. Data were collected during ten replicates over three years. First, a crow was more likely to visit the experimental food patch on the second day when it had been there on the first day. Second, when a crow had not been at this food patch on the first day, it was more likely to visit it on the second day if it had roosted together with a crow that had been there on the first day, but only if this knowledgeable roost–mate returned to the food patch on the second day. Our results support the information centre hypothesis and suggest that communal roosting might function to enhance foraging efficiency in hooded crows.