Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

An Exploration of Play Behaviors in Raven Nestlings

  • Mathias Osvath
  • Helena Osvath
  • Rasmus Bååth
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 157-165
Publication/Series: Animal behavior and cognition
Volume: 1
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Sciknow Publications Ltd.

Abstract english

Play is widespread among vertebrates. Some animal groups stand out in their play behaviors in levels of complexity, innovativeness, sociality, and volume. Despite the vast phylogenetic distance between corvids, parrots, great apes, and dolphins, all are usually identified as among the most playful. These groups also have several complex cognitive skills in common. There is growing agreement that play has evolved multiple times under different selective pressures in different lineages. As these groups appear similar in their complex play but are separated by considerable evolutionary distance, the similarity is unlikely to result from homology. Far more probable is that the similarity has arisen from convergent or parallel evolution. It is important to conduct comparative ontogenetic play studies on these groups to learn more about what basic processes underlie complex play and whether such play is, indeed, related to complex cognition. Toward that end, we explored the play behavior of raven nestlings over the last ten days before they fledged. We found high levels of play both in terms of instances initiated and duration. The play behaviors were at level with – or above – maintenance behaviors and flight training. Most of the play was object play, but social object play and apparent play contagion was also recorded. The importance of play in developing young ravens is clear. The reasons might be less clear, however play could underlie both object-related and social development.


  • Zoology
  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
  • Computer Vision and Robotics (Autonomous Systems)
  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
  • Raven play
  • Avian play
  • Development of play
  • Raven ontogeny
  • Physical cognition


  • LUCS Cognitive Zoology Group
  • Lund University Cognitive Science (LUCS)-lup-obsolete
  • ISSN: 2372-5052
Helena Osvath
E-mail: helena [dot] osvath [at] lucs [dot] lu [dot] se

Project assistant

Cognitive Science

+46 70 267 33 19


Project assistant

Department of Biology

+46 46 222 96 14