Hiromitsu Miyata and other researchers studied the Kea parrot to investigate aspects of its intelligence. The Kea parrot, which is known as the “clown of the mountains” is known for its playfulness, curiosity and boldness in finding food and exploring its environs.
Miyata and his colleagues created several tests involving boxes that contained locked-up fruit. The Kea were able to open up the first round of boxes, so the tests were made more difficult. The harder test used bolts that had to be positioned in a way so that they did not block each other, for the box to be opened. The Kea figured out those challenges as well. But in the more difficult tests, it was observed they were able to achieve success faster when they had time to study the obstacle before they were allowed to touch it.
Their results showed the Kea use exploration in solving puzzles to get food, but they also can observe a situation and plan their actions, without physically interacting with the puzzle. Reportedly it was thought Kea solved problems through trial-and-error, but the new research suggests they can also strategize.
Kea also learn through emulating their peers and by cooperating with each other. In fact there are many reports of Kea intelligence, mostly on their unrelenting inquisitiveness when it comes to finding a meal. Kea have been described pulling rubber off of windshield wipers, using their beaks to cut through spare tire covers, breaking into garbage containers, stealing food from hikers and campers and even eating sheep. Last year it was reported a Kea stole a tourist’s passport. They are considered to be a highly neophilic species.
The alpine parrots are considered vulnerable due to hunting, which has reduced their population considerably. They are one of ten endemic New Zealand parrots.
Image Credit: gambier20
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