Mirror stimulation in Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius).

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Baciadonna, Luigi 
Cornero, Francesca M 
Clayton, Nicola S 
Emery, Nathan J 

Mirror exposure elicits a wide range of behavioral responses, some of which have been considered as part of possible evidence of mirror self-recognition (MSR). These responses can range from social behaviors, indicating that an animal considers its own reflection as a conspecific, to mirror-guided and self-directed actions. Evidence of MSR has been found categorically in only a few species, such as in magpies, chimpanzees, horses, and elephants. Evidence in corvids is currently debated due to inconsistent findings. In this study, we investigated the reaction of Eurasian jays when presenting them with three mirror-stimulation tasks. Based on the overall behavioral patterns across these three tasks, conclusions about birds' understanding of a reflective surface, and their perception of the reflection as either themselves or as a conspecific, appear premature. We highlight how the high neophobia of corvids and other methodological constraints might have hindered the likelihood to approach and explore a mirror, preventing the emergence of behaviors typically associated with MSR. Furthermore, we discuss how motivational factors, methodological constraints and species differences should be considered when interpreting behavioral responses to mirrors.

Avian cognition, Corvids, Neophobia, Self-awareness, Animals, Horses, Songbirds, Social Behavior, Passeriformes, Elephants, Pan troglodytes
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Templeton World Charity Foundation, Herchel Smith Postgraduate Fellowship (Harvard University)