Brainy Birds Know How to Reel in Food With String
Barbados bullfinches and grackles join a growing list of animals that demonstrate complex problem-solving skills, a new study says.
You’re walking across a bridge and you happen to notice a donut tied to a string hanging beneath you. The pastry looks delicious and your tummy is rumbling, but you’ll have to do a bit of work if you want to eat the treat. Do you give the string a tug?
This isn’t the premise for a new reality TV show. It’s the string-pulling paradigm, a test scientists have long been using to examine animal intelligence. Birds are the most common subjects, but kangaroos, dogs, rats, lemurs, and gorillas have all been tempted by the twine—and passed.
Now a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE finds that two more species successfully perform the task: the bullfinch (Loxigilla barbadensis)