Azure-winged magpies fail to understand the principle of mirror imaging.Behav Processes. 2020 Aug; 177:104155.BP
Mirror self-recognition (MSR) is considered a crucial step in the emergence of self-cognition. The MSR paradigm has become a standard method for evaluating self-cognition in several species. For example, Eurasian magpies and Indian house crows have passed the mark test for self-cognition, whereas efforts to find MSR in other corvid species have failed. However, no literature has conducted MSR tests on azure-winged magpies, a species of corvids. Therefore, the current research aimed to investigate the MSR behaviours of azure-winged magpies upon looking into a mirror for the first time. The study included four tests: (1) mirror preference and standardised mirror exploration, (2) single vertical mirror test, (3) mark test and (4) mirror-triggered search test. The azure-winged magpies displayed immense curiosity towards the mirror and their images in the mirror in Test 1&2. In the subsequent mark tests, they failed to recognise themselves in the mirror and regarded their images as conspecifics. Behaviour analysis showed no significant difference between marked and unmarked behaviours. Finally they seemed to infer the presence of bait from the image in the mirror, but were found to fail to understand that the location of the bait in the mirror was the same as that in the real world. For a better insight into the MSR behaviour of azure-winged magpies, research studies involving prolonged mirror exposure and training are recommended.