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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2021

Authors: Wakonig, B; Auersperg, AMI; O'Hara, M

Title: String-pulling in the Goffin's cockatoo (Cacatua goffiniana).

Source: Learn Behav. 2021 49 (1) 124-136.

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Auersperg Alice Isabel Marie
O'Hara Mark Christopher

Vetmed Research Units
Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition

Project(s): Technical Innovativeness in the GoffinÂ’s Cockatoo (Cacatua goffiniana)

Cognitive ecology of Goffin`s cockatoos (Cacatua Goffiniana)

The innovation problem: factors influencing innovative tool use in humaninfants and cockatoos

Goffin's cockatoos, a parrot species endemic to the Tanimbar Islands in Indonesia, demonstrate remarkable cognitive skills across various technical tasks. These neophilic extractive foragers explore objects with their beak and feet, and are skilled in several modes of tool use. In this study, we confronted the animals for the first time with a vertical string-pulling setup, including a set of classic and novel controls. Nine of the 12 subjects, two of which were subadults, immediately interacted with the single-string task, with seven individuals successfully obtaining the reward on their very first attempt. Four different double string discrimination tests with varying spatial relations were used to assess the Goffin's cockatoos' apprehension of basic physical task properties. We found significant differences in performance between the respective experimental conditions, as well as the development of side biases. The results suggest that while the birds seem to consider simple cause-effect relationships, there is no evidence for a mental representation of the causal mechanisms underlying the string-pulling tasks, as subjects failed the crossed strings condition out of immediate sight. Finally, we provide suggestions on improving the methodology, and discuss our findings in regard to the Goffin's cockatoo's ecology.

Keywords Pubmed: Animals

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