Cockatoos can pick locks

A new study published at Plos One reveals that cockatoos can pick complicated locks, with one bird unraveling the five interlocking components without being given a demonstration beforehand. Jon M Chang, for ABC News: Alex Kacelnik, a professor of zoology at Oxford University … and his colleagues, Alice Auersperg and Auguste von Bayern at the… READ THE REST

Once the snakes join forces with them locking your doors at night will be pointless.

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for all the grant money they’re getting, they could at least have posted a few YouTube videos of the birds dancing around picking locks. To some background music.
Damn those scientists.


Hey Rob

Here’s Mookie, my Cockatoo showing a little intelligence at one of the Boing Boing Meetups in Echo Park.

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Damn those birds! I’d been wondering who’d been getting into the liquor cabinet!

The Kea is native to New Zealand and is said to have the level of intelligence of a 7-year-old human child. In fact, they are smart enough to plot against humans in a group, as I have come to learn. Very impressive, and quite scary what some birds are capable of.

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Hey, whatta you doing standing at that door with a bird?

Me? Nothing, just enjoying the scenery.

Auguste von Bayern? The Duchesse of Leuchtenberg, Vicereine of Italy?

So that’s why they didn’t let Robert Stroud keep pets at Alcatraz.

The BBC Article about this includes a video (albeit sans audio):

That’s nothing… my pet pelican can calculate the prime factors of extremely large numbers.


Kea are always stealing my enormous (for Dwarves) birchen corkscrews and finely crafted chert mugs. If I didn’t have fresh blade weed ale, I might withdraw from society. (Totes need a pinterest dwarf for that one.) Should have domesticated them first, perhaps.

Also, I misread Rob’s post to understand that Cockatiels were taking 6-tumbler locks inset in a puzzle and picking them in order. Awesome for Rob. Perhaps this is the way forward for kids otherwise interested in droids and hover-racing.

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My mom’s cat can open closed doors and press mashable lock buttons (he locked me out once).

I’m going to see if I can register him for locksmith classes, because it sounds like he really needs to step up his game.


I thought chimps were only about as smart as three year olds.

Hard to credit…

At any rate, they can certainly take the piss : D

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Intelligence is a notoriously tricky thing to objectively quantify across different species. (Or even within a species, for that matter.)

Yeah, but consider how many neurons a bird has to work with compared to a chimp.

I know birds have some damn clever tricks, like the red light using, walnut-eating crows in the UK, but it seems to me as if these have to be the result of some kind of serendipitous processing shortcut, like the sort of tricks programmers had to find back in the day to make 1k chess and the like (I guess graphics guys are still chasing those pretty hard).

And this kind of trick, although it results in the odd handy feat which must undoubtedly count towards any measure of intelligence, strikes me as likely being rather specific in nature and thus less indicative of the sort of ability you would generally associate with said feat.

That’s my feeling, anyway. I’d be surprised if whatever processing shortcuts birds use to get so many tricks out of such little grey matter are general-purpose enough to substitute entirely for more powerful hardware running software you might expect to be more adaptable. Although it is disappointing how little mental flexibility you see in the higher animals…

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Now if only he could learn how to communicate them.

Totally. Right now I show him the number, he stares at it for a while, then just sits there with a smug, knowing look.

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