This Goffin's cockatoo named Figaro is believed to be the first parrot ever observed to craft tools for reaching food and other objects.
At a research facility in Austria, scientists were surprised to see Figaro using a stick to rake in a pebble that he dropped just outside of his enclosure. In their study, the team put a nut just out of the bird's reach to see what he would do.
In several tests, Figaro made tools from sticks or splinters of wood that he peeled off a beam in the aviary.
The bird often crafted new tools or modified old ones to be the appropriate size and shape to obtain the nut in each case.
The researchers, who detailed their study in the journal Current Biology, say Figaro managed to get the nut each time. "Figaro shows us that, even when they are not habitual tool-users, members of a species that are curious, good problem-solvers, and large-brained, can sculpt tools out of a shapeless source material to fulfill a novel need," said study researcher Alex Kacelnik, of Oxford University.
This image shows a young Goffin's cuckatoo on a tree perch. The species is not known to use tools in the wild, but Figaro's example shows that tool-making can emerge from intelligence not-specialized for tool use.