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Parrots and Crows Show their Inventive Side WWW.GOODNEWS.WS

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Uploaded on Jun 15, 2011

http://goodnews.ws/

A team of researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Vienna have tested the technical skills and innovation abilities of two of the most intelligent birds known, kea parrots and New Caledonian crows.
New Caledonian crows regularly use and manufacture complex tools in the wild to extract food, feats that they repeat in the laboratory. Kea parrots, although not natural tool users, are known for their inquisitiveness, and have recently shown in captivity the ability to use compact objects as tools. Comparing the problem-solving performance of these two very special animals is helping to reveal how the evolution of differences in intelligence depends on the ecology of each species. Dr Alice Auersperg, who led the study, said: 'We confronted members of both species with a 'Multi Access Box' in which a food reward could be acquired by applying one of four different methods: pulling a string tied around the reward, opening a window by pulling a hook-shaped lever, inserting marbles into a curved pathway so that they rolled down and knocked the food reward out of place, or inserting a stick-like tool into the side of the box to poke the food out.'
She adds: 'Our aim was to examine the birds' performance in a battery of different tasks. We allowed them to choose which task to tackle first, and once they were proficient with it, we blocked it to see how long and in which way they proceeded to the next solution.' Six kea and five New Caledonian crows participated in the study, but only one of each, called Kermit (a parrot) and Uek (a crow) respectively, mastered all four tasks. For the kea the most difficult task was using a stick as a tool. This is not surprising, since kea do not do this in the wild, but, as Dr Auersperg explains, technical understanding was not their only obstacle: 'The kea's curved beak makes it impossible for them to hold a stick aligned with the head. Kermit overcame this constraint by developing a complex technique, involving several steps: he first held one end of the stick against the box opening, holding it laterally inside its beak. Thereafter he exchanged his beak with his foot, still pressing the tool's end against the opening. Finally, he grabbed the other tool end with his beak and pushed the tool through the opening, manoeuvring it until the stick's tip hit the reward. Kermit's behaviour gave a strong impression of acting towards a purpose'. The most difficult task for New Caledonian crows was instead opening the window by pulling a hook.
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http://goodnews.ws/blog/2011/06/15/pa...

Parrots and Crows Show their Inventive Side WWW.GOODNEWS.WS

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