Is It a Bird? Is it a Plane? - Detection of biological motion by Western scrub-jays

<p>Western Scrub-jays take into account what others can see and hear when protecting their hidden caches from potential pilferers, suggesting that they may have Theory of Mind-like abilities. In humans, the ability to detect biological motion precedes the development of Theory of Mind and may be an important prerequisite for it. Human infants attend to point-light animation sequences depicting human movement from an early age, preferring it to sequences depicting non-biological, random movement. In this study, we addressed the question of whether or not Western scrub-jays would show a similar preference to observe biological motion patterns compared to a random motion pattern. Birds had access to two peepholes, allowing them to choose between random motion and three different types of biological motion patterns: a biological motion of another scrub-jay (Experiment 1), a familiar biological motion pattern of a cat walking (Experiment 2) and an unfamiliar biological motion pattern of a horse (Experiment 3). Across all three experiments, scrub-jays did not reliably prefer to observe biological motion. One interpretation is that a preference for biological motion patterns might not be associated with Theory of Mind-like abilities in scrub-jays.  </p>