Date: May 16, 2017
Source: University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Only a few animal species such as New Caledonian crows or some primates have so far been found to habitually use tools. Even fewer can manufacture their own tools. Nevertheless, the Goffin's cockatoo, an Indonesian parrot, exhibit both abilities while seemingly lacking a genetic adaptation for tool use. Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and the University of Vienna have now shown yet another tool-related ability in these clever parrots.
After a brief learning phase, they keep their tools safe nearby without dropping them while feeding until the last of five difficult-to-obtain food rewards has been retrieved. In order to succeed, they are able to adapt their behavioural routines in a way that allows for feeding and holding the tool both at the same time. This not only highlights the learning abilities of these animals but also suggests the ability to plan their body movements. The study was published in the scientific journal Animal Behaviour. Any craftsman knows that it is much easier to always keep a pair of pliers or a hammer safe at hand inside a belt instead of having to retrieve it every time it is needed. Having to look for tools, to buy or to manufacture them usually involves a much larger effort than keeping them safe to reuse them at any time.