There is growing comparative evidence that the cognitive bases of cooperation are not unique to humans. However, the selective pressures that lead to the evolution of these mechanisms remain unclear. Here we show that while tool-making New Caledonian crows can produce collaborative behavior, they do not understand the causality of cooperation nor show sensitivity to inequity. Instead, the collaborative behavior produced appears to have been underpinned by the transfer of prior experience. These results suggest that a number of possible selective pressures, including tool manufacture and mobbing behaviours, have not led to the evolution of cooperative cognition in this species. They show that causal cognition can evolve in a domain specific manner-understanding the properties and flexible uses of physical tools does not necessarily enable animals to grasp that a conspecific can be used as a social tool.