Thinking about the future, cockatoo parrots try not to lose the tools with which they were getting the hard-to-treat.

The Goffin Cockatoo. (Photo: jenzisan /

Kakadu is trying to stick to get to the “difficult” nut. (Photo: Bene Croy.)”

One of the signs of high intelligence – the use of tools. Once upon a time it was thought that use them can only people, it turned out that the same ability have the great apes. After the monkeys came the turn of the birds revealed that they are also able to use different objects to achieve some goal.

Often animals use tools to get food, which just does not reach. There are a few, shall we say, difficulty levels: you can just use something ready, for example, found a twig, and it is possible to change the weapon, to make it more suitable for the task you want to perform.

The same branch can, for example, bent into a hook to remove interfering knots and irregularities . Here we are talking almost about the manufacture of tools, and is capable of it is not very many. Among birds the most characteristic examples of “users and producers” – new Caledonian crows and cockatoos the Goffin.

The latter generally demonstrate amazing mental plasticity in relation to the work tool, as written in his article in Animal Behaviour , researchers from the Vienna University of veterinary medicine, cockatoos are able to plan their actions and keep the tools for the future.

Alice Auersperg (Auersperg Alice) and her colleagues, for a long time engaged in the cognitive abilities of a cockatoo, set the following experiment: the parrots offered to get a nut from a transparent box with a hole, and in some cases, the nut could get, and so in other cases it was placed on a high stand, and to reach it, you had to use a stick. Sometimes the nut also put in a special capsule, which further complicated the task. The essence of the experience was that the wand was only one: a parrot if it has been dropped, some nuts – those that were on a high stand – he already could not get.

Cockatoo quickly realized what was happening, and tried not to lose his tool. If the parrot started with the walnut, which have to reach wand, he better kept the wand than when the first treat was “simple” nut, which you can reach out with the beak – in other words, the initial experience prompted the parrot, what to expect in the future. But even if after the “hard” nut was “simple” nuts, cockatoo still kept the tool with him.

Interestingly, dealing with “simple” nuts, parrots kept his wand casually enough – many are simply clamped it in the jaws, at the same time trying to get a nut with its beak; in this case, the risk that the wand will fall and be lost, were relatively high. If the parrots have worked with “difficult” nuts to the instrument of labor they were treated more carefully, so when the nut was in the capsule, spihnuv with his stick from the stand, cockatoo thrust the stick into the hole in the adjacent box, at the same time holding the tool paw – securely fixed in such a way wand, he calmly engaged in the nut.

Parrots have complicated the task in other ways: for example, a hole in the box with the meal closed with some object, and the birds had this item as something to remove or bypass, still not losing tool. Cockatoos have adapted to the situation with surprising plasticity – if the task is required to change the usual sequence of actions, they began to act differently.

Moreover, different birds manipulated the tools in different ways, for example, someone held a wand in its talons, and someone has pressed it to the surface. According to the authors, such variability behavior distinguishes the Goffin cockatoo from the same new Caledonian crows: ravens action more uniform, and hence their cognitive skills regarding the tools are innate properties to a greater extent than that of parrots.