Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. A Goffin’s Cockatoo living at the Vienna University stunned researchers by exhibiting behaviors never before seen in any parrot species. The bird, known as Figaro, went far beyond “mere” tool use. When confronted with an out-of-reach treat, he first searched for a stick to use, and then modified the stick so as to better suit it for his purposes. Figaro’s accomplishments are especially surprising because he had not been trained in any way, nor had he observed other tool-using birds. He seems to have “envisioned” a concept and acted upon it. Please post your own “smart parrot” stories below.
Spontaneous and Unexpected Tool Use
Parrots are considered among the most intelligent of birds, but tool use has not been documented in their ranks. True, the majestic Palm Cockatoo bangs wood against hollow trees in order to communicate (please see this article) and many species wedge nuts into crevices to ease the job of opening them, but advanced tool use seemed beyond their abilities.
Figaro’s talents came to light purely by chance. A researcher happened to be nearby when Figaro dropped a stone behind a metal cage divider. Unable to reach the plaything with his feet, the enterprising cockatoo flew off and returned with a piece of bamboo. He used the bamboo to push the stone within reach. Read More »