The clever games: avian contestants compete against each other in an Innovation Arena

A recently published study by the Goffin Labs of the interuniversity Messerli Research Institute (University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Medical University of Vienna, University of Vienna), presents a new approach to compare innovative problem solving of different groups: the “Innovation Arena”. Subjects are confronted with 20 technical problems arranged in a semicircle, hence “arena”, that have to be solved to access a reward. This set-up was used to test whether long-term captivity resulted in enhanced problem-solving abilities, as assumed by a theory called “captivity effect”, in Goffin´s cockatoos. Laboratory raised birds were compared to wild cockatoos, which were short-term captured for the experiments and later released. Although “wild” cockatoos showed less interest to interact with the apparatus, those who did solved as many tasks as the “lab” birds. Therefor the researchers concluded that no other cognitive component necessary to solve the tasks, except motivation, is significantly enhanced in the long-term captive population. In other words: “They can do it if they really want”. 

The paper 1 „Using an innovation Arena to compare wild-caught and laboratory Goffin’s cockatoos“ by Theresa Rössler 2, Berenika Mioduszewska, Mark O’Hara 3, Ludwig Huber 4, Dewi M. Prawiradilaga & Alice M. I. Auersperg  4has been published on 26 May 2020 in Scientific Reports.

(C) Berenika Mioduszewska.
A Goffin’s cockatoo working a puzzle box in Tanimbar, Indonesia.