Learning From Mistakes: An Expert Speaks

Crane on Nest

Many people assume that a creature with a "bird brain" behaves mostly by instinct and doesn't learn. But ornithologists who study cranes have long known that birds perfect their nesting behaviors with experience. This means they can learn from their mistakes. Here's what crane expert Laura Erickson thinks. How does your thinking compare with Laura's?


What might destroy a crane egg? What might the crane learn when this happens?
Predators such as raccoons might eat the egg. The cranes might start recognizing raccoons as a danger and use threats or attacks to drive raccoons off.
The mother may step on the egg and put too much weight on it, breaking it. She might start stepping on the nest with greater care so her feet are off the egg.
The mother may jump off the nest too fast, accidentally stepping on and crushing the egg. She might start being more careful when she leaves the nest.