Bruce the parrot lost half his beak. Now he’s developed his own self-care routine

Bruce the Kea is a disabled parrot who has figured out how to use tools for his beauty routine.

Patrick Wood

It’s not dramatic, but I would die for Bruce the Kea. The disabled parrot lives in Willowbank Wildlife Sanctuary in Christchurch, New Zealand. It lacks the upper part of its beak, but that doesn’t stop it from looking fabulous. He figured out how to smooth out without.

Bruce’s grooming routine involves finding a perfect pebble, rolling it with his tongue, and then holding it against the bottom of his beak while he cleans his feathers. A team of researchers published a study on Bruce’s skills in the journal Scientific Reports last week.

“Although there are anecdotal reports of the use of self-care tools in pet parrots, this form of tool use is rare in nature, and this is the first time that it is observed in a kea, “the University of Auckland said in a statement. Friday. “This is also the first scientific observation of a parrot using a pebble to take care of itself.”

Researchers followed Bruce’s stony behavior for nine days and noted that 90% of the time he picked up a pebble, he used it to preen himself. If he dropped it, he would pick it up or find a replacement to continue working on his feathers. He was also consistent about the size of his pebbles. All of these observations indicate intentional use of the tool.

Bruce was rescued from the wild in 2013. Researchers suspect his injury could have been due to a collision with a pest trap. His lives with other kea in an aviary. Bruce is given soft foods that are easy to handle without a full spout, but he’s also figured out how to press harder foods against other objects to eat.

The university’s Animal Minds Lab posted a video showing Bruce’s work with pebbles and harder foods.

None of Bruce’s kea buddies in the aviary exhibited any pebble-preening behavior, indicating that this is behavior he himself invented.

Lead author, Amalia Bastos, said, “Kea does not regularly display the use of tools in nature, so having individual use of innovative tools in response to her disability shows great flexibility in their intelligence. ” Bruce isn’t just a pretty bird; he is an intelligent and resourceful bird.

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