In a clever set of experiments, scientists showed that the famously intelligent birds take extra care to hide food if they suspect their movements are being monitored by another raven, even when the second bird is not really there.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggest that ravens, without recourse to direct observation, are able to understand what might be going on in the mind of another individual.
"This shows that traits that we consider 'uniquely human' may be found in animals too," said lead author Thomas Bugnyar, a professor at the University of Vienna and a leading expert on social cognition in animals.

Previous research, mainly with chimpanzees, has shown that non-human animals can understand what others are seeing. But it was assumed that they did so by monitoring an individual's head or eye movements, what scientists call 'gaze cues'.
"It was still an open question whether any non-human animal can attribute the concept of 'seeing' without relying on behavioural cues," the study noted.
Even without those cues, however, the ravens showed that they understood they were perhaps being watched, and changed their behaviour accordingly.
"This strongly suggests that ravens make generalisations based on their experience, and do not merely interpret and respond to behavioural cues from other birds," said Bugnyar.

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