1. ITV Report

Clever cockatoos learn carpentry skills


Some clever cockatoos have surprised scientists by learning to use basic tools to get food.

It started when one of the Goffin's cockatoos, named Figaro, started making sticks from splinters of beams and then using them to rake up nuts to eat.

The other birds quickly cottoned on and started copying Figaro and making their own tools.

It was particularly surprising to the Austrian researchers because Goffin's cockatoos are not known to employ tools in their natural habitat in Indonesia.

The Goffin's cockatoo has a distinctive white plumage. Credit: Leif R Jansson / SCANPIX/TT News Agency/Press Association Images

Two of the cockatoos were even able to carve their own tools out of a wooden block. One hit on the idea himself while the other succeeded after first watching a carpentry demonstration from Figaro.

Oxford University professor Alex Kacelnik said there was a "substantial difference" between the birds simply copying each other and coming up with their own methods.

The latter implies a creative process stimulated by a social interaction, while the former could, at least potentially, rely on simpler imitation. The cockatoos seem to emulate and surpass their teacher, which is what all good professors hope for from their best students.

– Professor Alex Kacelnik