While we humans can’t agree where we stand on tracking devices, one group of birds assertively came out against the technology. In , Dominique Potvin, an Animal Ecology professor at the in Australia, said he and his team recently witnessed a mischief of magpies display a rare cooperative “rescue” behavior when they attempted to track the birds.
Unfortunately, the study fell apart in mere days. Within 10 minutes of Potvin’s team fitting the final tracker, they saw a female magpie use her bill to remove a harness off of one of the younger birds. Hours later, most of the other test subjects had been freed of their trackers too. By day three, even the most dominant male in the group had allowed one of his flock to assist him.
“We don’t know if it was the same individual helping each other or if they shared duties, but we had never read about any other bird cooperating in this way to remove tracking devices,” Potvin said. “The birds needed to problem solve, possibly testing at pulling and snipping at different sections of the harness with their bill. They also needed to willingly help other individuals, and accept help.”