I don’t want to be dramatic, but I would die for Bruce the kea. The disabled parrot lives in the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch, New Zealand. The top of the peak is missing, but that doesn’t stop it from looking fabulous. You’ve figured out how to get by without it.
Bruce’s grooming routine involves finding a perfect stone, rolling it with his tongue, and then holding it against his lower beak while cleaning the feathers. A team of researchers published a study on Bruce’s abilities in Scientific Reports last week.
“Although there are anecdotal reports of the use of self-care tools in parrots as pets, this form of tool use is rare in nature, and this is the first time it has been observed in a kea.” the University of Auckland said in a statement on Friday. “It is also the first scientific observation of a parrot using a pebble for personal care.”
The researchers tracked Bruce’s pebble behavior for nine days and noted that 90% of the time he picked up a pebble, he used it for grooming. If he dropped it, he would pick it up again or find a replacement to continue working on his pens. It was also constant about the size of its pebbles. All of these observations point to the intentional use of tools.
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Bruce was rescued from the wild in 2013. Investigators suspect his injury could be due to an encounter with a pest trap. His life with other Kea in an aviary. Bruce is given soft food that is easy to handle without a full beak, but he has also figured out how to press harder food against other objects in order to eat.
The university’s Animal Minds Lab posted a video showing Bruce’s work with both the pebble and the toughest foods.
None of Bruce’s friends in the aviary have exhibited pebble grooming behavior, indicating that it is behavior that he invented himself.
Amalia Bastos, lead author, said: “The Kea do not regularly display tool use in nature, so having individual use of innovative tools in response to their disability shows great flexibility in their intelligence.” Bruce is not just a pretty bird; it is an intelligent and resourceful bird.