Ten untrained Goffin's cockatoos were able to complete a series of complex sequential tasks to access a nut reward.
University of Oxford
These are birds with intellects to rival even those of Alfred Hitchock.
Researchers have found that Goffin's cockatoos can complete a complicated sequence of tasks in pursuit of a reward, suggesting that species' cognitive ability to innovate solutions to an unfamiliar problem.
In the experiment, ten untrained cockatoos were presented with a complex device that, if a series of steps were completed, would proffer up a quarter of a cashew: first, the birds must remove a pin, then a screw, then a bolt; then turn a wheel 90 degrees and then a latch sideways. It took one of the birds, Pipin, less than two hours to finish the process unassisted in five different sessions. Other birds finished the puzzle with some help, after being offered either the series of locks incrementally or after watching a bird partner do the task.
"The cockatoos sudden improvement in removing the five locks, each of which required a different set of behaviors indicates pronounced levels of behavioral plasticity,sensorimotor control and practical memory in this species," said Alice Auersperg, who led the study at the Goffin Laboratory at Vienna University, in an email interview.