Read the paper here:

Tooling is associated with complex cognitive abilities, occurring most regularly in large-brained
mammals and birds. Among birds, self-care tooling is seemingly rare in the wild, despite several
anecdotal reports of this behaviour in captive parrots. Here, we show that Bruce, a disabled parrot
lacking his top mandible, deliberately uses pebbles to preen himself. Support for this claim
comes from five lines of evidence: (i) in over 90% of instances where Bruce picked up a pebble,
he then used it to preen; (ii) in 95% of instances where Bruce dropped a pebble, he retrieved this
pebble, or replaced it, in order to resume preening; (iii) Bruce selected pebbles of a specific size for
preening rather than randomly sampling available pebbles in his environment; (iv) no other kea in his
environment used pebbles for preening; and (v) when other individuals did interact with stones, they
used stones of different sizes to those Bruce preened with. Our study provides novel and empirical
evidence for deliberate self-care tooling in a bird species where tooling is not a species-specific
behaviour. It also supports claims that tooling can be innovated based on ecological necessity by
species with sufficiently domain-general cognition.


Comments Through Facebook:

    13 replies to "Self‐care tooling innovation in a disabled kea (Nestor notabilis)"

    • Raymond Tri

      well done Bruce! I give him all my heart!

    • DJ

      The 1 thumbs down bro were u live?? i like to fight the wicked

    • Eddie Starr

      Long Live Bruce

    • Mahoyage

      Could someone 3D print the top part of his beak for him and attach it in a less stressful way?

    • Corvus Moneduloides

      Use 3D printing to make him an upper bill. Did this not occur to you?? Many others have done this for many birds with broken bills.

    • Winston Forrest

      Spoilt only by misspelling Reasearch doh

    • Tim McDaniel

      In the wild, they use windscreen wipers, bits of car trim, and car antennas.

    • hpdutra

      Someone 3d print a beak for this poor bird

    • Bradley Cossins

      Sweet little baby. He looks full of energy and has a strong heart despite his deformity.

      I do wonder, however, if someone could 3D print a beak and attach it to him. However, from the sight of how nice his coat of feathers are and how at-ease he always looks, he seems to be living his best life ❤
      Cheers from Michigan, Mates!

    • FunkyFlunky

      Today’s Guardian UK article brought me here. Fascinating. I encountered a lovely Kea whilst on my travels in New Zealand many moons ago.🙏👍☀️🇬🇧🙏

    • K. Jespersen

      Wonderful paper! Well argued/reasoned, and quite rigorous, with excellent data and useful(ly charming) video providing same. I look forward to seeing the further work on the subject!

      (Go, Kati-Bruce, go, you wonderful parrot!)

      Do kea beaks have ridges on the insides, like in other parrots? If so, it might be a fun idea to test pebble orientation preferences by dremel-ing similar ridges onto particular facets of suitable pebbles and offering them to him, to see what side he turns up or down. (Though, on second thought, I'm sorry to Patrick or whomever would be stuck doing the finicky dremel work with such tiny pebbles.)

      Did any of the preening events involve divestiture of pin-feathers/blood-feathers of their casings? I wonder if candidate parts of the body for pebble-preening might be impacted by the presence of these feathers, and if he has innovated other tools for dealing with them.

    • BB-8

      Great Paper as always!

    • tmzilla

      I'm still on Team Ka-Ti

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