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Kea parrots understand probabilities

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Kea parrots (Nestor notabilis) are called “the clown of the mountains” because of their playful and mischievous behaviors across the alpine forest regions of South Island, New Zealand. They are also smart. In this demonstration-filled Nature video, researchers use a series of intelligence tests to explore whether the kea can make predictions. Amalia Bastos explains:

Could they understand an event that happened with incomplete information? Could they fill in the gaps? So if you can imagine my placing my hand in a jar of mostly blue candies, and a few yellow candies, and I take something from that jar, but you can’t see what’s in my hand, you might guess that I’ve taken a blue candy. We wanted to see if the kea could do the same thing.

kea parrot research
The results: Using both visual and social information provided, these kea parrots seem to understand probabilities in ways that sometimes rivaled monkeys. The research paper states:

This has important implications not only for our understanding of how intelligence evolves, but also for research focused on how to create artificial domain-general thought processes.

kea parrots make predicitions
This NatGeo Wild video puts the kea through a few more puzzles. Watch that next.

And though they look a bit similar, the kea should not be confused with another native bird to New Zealand, the endangered kakapo, the world’s only flightless parrot.

More related smart bird content includes:
• Goffin’s cockatoos try to create tools to reach a treat
• More evidence that birds can count
• A wild crow solves a puzzle in 8 parts

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