DIY parrot uses tools to survive despite a broken beak

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EXCERPTS: Necessity may be the mother of invention, but for Bruce the parrot, it is the essence of survival. [...] Bruce was found without the upper half of his beak as a juvenile in 2013. He was nursed back to health at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch, where he now resides with a flock of kea, an alpine parrot found only in New Zealand...

[...] After his recovery, researchers noticed Bruce was using small pebbles to rid his plumage of mites and dirt—a practice that has never been observed before. Keas traditionally use their beaks to preen themselves.

“Kea do not regularly display tool use in the wild, so to have an individual innovate tool use in response to his disability shows great flexibility in their intelligence,” study author Amalia Bastos, a Ph.D. student at the University of Auckland School of Psychology, tells Eva Corlett for the Guardian. “They’re able to adapt and flexibly solve new problems as they emerge.”

Corlett and her fellow researchers studied Bruce for nine days to learn how he developed his self-care technique on his own and published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.

They observed Bruce selecting specific sizes of pebbles that he could fit in his still-intact lower beak. Using his tongue, the parrot holds the small stone in place to preen his plumage. Other scientists were at first skeptical of the findings, but videos show Bruce continually doing what Bastos and others have claimed... (MORE - details)

Meet Bruce the kea

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