Flexible motor adjustment of pecking with an artificially extended bill in crows but not in pigeons

Hiroshi Matsui, Ei Ichi Izawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The dextrous foraging skills of primates, including humans, are underpinned by flexible vision-guided control of the arms/hands and even tools as body-part extensions. This capacity involves a visuomotor conversion process that transfers the locations of the hands/arms and a target in retinal coordinates into body coordinates to generate a reaching/grasping movement and to correct online. Similar capacities have evolved in birds, such as tool use in corvids and finches, which represents the flexible motor control of extended body parts. However, the flexibility of avian headreaching and bill-grasping with body-part extensions remains poorly understood. This study comparatively investigated the flexibility of pecking with an artificially extended bill in crows and pigeons. Pecking performance and kinematics were examined when the bill extension was attached, and after its removal. The bill extension deteriorated pecking in pigeons in both performance and kinematics over 10 days. After the bill removal, pigeons started bill-grasping earlier, indicating motor adaptation to the bill extension. Contrastingly, pecking in crows was deteriorated transiently with the bill extension, but was recovered by adjusting pecking at closer distances, suggesting a quick adjustment to the bill extension. These results indicate flexible visuomotor control to extended body parts in crows but not in pigeons.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160796
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 15


  • Birds
  • Body mapping
  • Body scheme
  • Motor adaptation
  • Pecking
  • Tool use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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