A novel form of spontaneous tool use displayed by several captive greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Parrots are frequently cited for their sophisticated problem-solving abilities, but cases of habitual tool use among psittacines are scarce. We report the first evidence, to our knowledge, of tool use by greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa). Several members of a captive population spontaneously adopted a novel tool-using technique by using pebbles and date pits either (i) to scrape on the inner surface of seashells, subsequently licking the resulting calcium powder from the tool, or (ii) as a wedge to break off smaller pieces of the shell for ingestion. Tool use occurred most frequently just prior to the breeding season, during which time numerous instances of tool transfer were also documented. These observations provide new insights into the tool-using capabilities of parrots and highlight the greater vasa parrot as a species of interest for studies of physical cognition.


  • Megan L Lambert
  • Amanda M Seed
  • Katie E Slocombe
External organisations
  • University of York
  • University of St Andrews
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Behavioral Sciences Biology


  • Animal Shells, Animals, Feeding Behavior, Female, Male, Parrots, Tool Use Behavior
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
JournalBiology letters
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes