Credit: Utrecht University People aren’t the only ones who show sympathy. Birds also seem to care about the fate of conspecifics. They notice how much food the others already have and then share theirs with individuals that were not given any. "They seem to take the each other’s perspective into account in their decision, and thus seem to show sympathy," said Utrecht-based biologist Jorg Massen in an experiment with azure-winged magpies. He published his findings together with colleagues from the University of Vienna and the Swedish Lund University on September 30 in Scientific Reports . Prosociality Helping others was long regarded as typical human behavior. But it has become clear that it is not only confined to humans. Primates and some other social mammals show prosocial behavior. "My earlier research has shown that birds also sometimes do something for someone else," says Massen. "The question was, however, whether this is ‘instinctive’ behavior that is ingrained, or whether this behavior is flexible, and whether these birds might also take into account how great the need of the other animal is." To investigate prosociality in birds, Massen subjected azure-winged magpies to an experiment. He gave one azure-winged magpie an abundance of […]

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