As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday 22 May 2017

Cockatoos keep their tools safe

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.

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