Parrot with Broken Beak Uses Tools to Survive, Showcasing Ingenuity

by Kati Michelle

The human mind can come up with some pretty creative concepts. Just last week, a cabin survived some of the most horrific wildfires after its owners completely covered it in tin foil. Back in July, one woman grew tired of a sanctioned lock-down and ordered a pack of cigarettes to be delivered by a drone (although she ended up paying a fine instead). The Animal Kingdom can be rather creative, too. Just take it from New Zealand’s Alpine Parrot, Bruce. During the recovery process for a broken beak, he figured out how to use other tools to survive. The results showcase an immaculate sense of ingenuity.

Bruce the Alpine Parrot Surprises Scientists

After his rescue as a juvenile little parrot back in 2013, rescuers noticed his broken beak. The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch, New Zealand nursed him back to health. They suspect an animal trap as the pesky culprit for Bruce’s ailment. He actually still calls this place home, joining an entire flock of Kea. This species is an alpine parrot that’s exclusively found in New Zealand, making them pretty special. Speaking of special, during his recovery process, Bruce did something scientists have never seen before.

In a practice observed for the very first time, Bruce the Alpine Parrot used small pebbles to rid his plumage of feathers from mites and dirt. Essentially, he used the pebbles as a loofah tool to give himself a bath. Now, the behavior became an observed “first” because the parrots typically use their beaks to do this.

A complete scientific report studying Bruce recently passed through publishing. You can read it here through the Scientific Reports Journal. One of its main contributors is Ph.D. student Amalia Bastos. She talks a little bit about the peculiar behavior:

“Kea do not regularly display tool use in the wild, so to have an individual innovate tool use in response to his disability shows great flexibility in their intelligence,” she says. “They’re able to adapt and flexibly solve new problems as they emerge.”

If you want to catch Bruce in action, you can watch him right here:

The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

The Willis family started the wildlife reserve over four decades ago. It is still operated by family to this day, actually. It draws in more than 120,000 people yearly, and not just locals either. People from all over the world find themselves exploring the reserve. It is considered the most comprehensive NZ-themed wildlife park out there and sticks to three main goals. They list them as follows:

1) to be part of the conservation of species

2) to educate customers and advocate for wildlife

3) to provide entertainment to families and visitors

In addition to Bruce the parrot, you can also see alpacas, capuchins, and capybaras amongst a plethora of other species.