bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

© Provided by CNET Bruce the kea is a disabled parrot who's figured out how to use tools for his beauty routine. Patrick Wood

Not to be dramatic, but I would die for Bruce the kea. The disabled parrot lives in at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch, New Zealand. He's missing the upper part of his beak, but that doesn't stop him from looking fabulous. He's figured out how to preen without it.

Bruce's self-care routine involves finding a perfect pebble, rolling it around with his tongue and then holding it against his lower bill while he cleans his feathers. A team of researchers published a study on Bruce's skills in the journal Scientific Reports last week. 

"Although anecdotal reports exist for self-care tool use in pet parrots, this form of tool use is rare in the wild, and this is the first time it has been observed in a kea," the University of Auckland said in a statement on Friday. "It is also the first scientific observation of a parrot using a pebble for self-care."

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

© Patrick Wood

Bruce the kea is a disabled parrot that has figured out how to use tools for his beauty routine.

The researchers tracked Bruce's pebbly behavior for nine days and noted that 90% of the time he picked up a pebble, he used it to preen. If he dropped it, he would pick it back up or find a replacement to continue working on his feathers. He was also consistent about the size of his pebbles. All these observations point to intentional tool use.  

Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards finalists see the funny side of nature

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

1/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET It's been a tough couple of years. You deserve a laugh. Finalists in the annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are here to lift you up with uproarious images of nature at its nuttiest. From grumpy birds to clingy raccoons, these photographers have you covered. A snickering gray seal pup stars in this fortuitous shot. A little bit of basking is good enough reason to smile. Photographer Martina Novotna snapped the shot in the UK after waiting for hours on a rocky beach. Though it looks like it's laughing, the seal is actually yawning.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

2/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET Two bear cubs stand up in a movement that almost looks choreographed. Photographer Andy Parkinson caught sight of the young bears on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. The wet bears had just crossed a stream.The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards of 2021 announced 42 finalists in September. The public can vote on a people's choice award. The winners' awards night is set for Oct. 22.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

3/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET A prairie dog appears to be putting up a fight in this meeting with a bald eagle in the US. There was a happy ending for the rodent. "When this bald eagle missed on its attempt to grab this prairie dog, the prairie dog jumped towards the eagle and startled it long enough to escape to a nearby burrow," said photographer Arthur Trevino.This image is one of the finalists in the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards competition.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

4/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET An otter parent takes its kid by the scruff during a swimming lesson in Singapore. This adorable and relatable image is one of the finalists for the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

5/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET Bald eagles are known for reusing nests, a project this bird was working on when it was captured in a face-plant with a branch. Eagles are considered to be among the most majestic of birds, but this one wasn't quite living up to its reputation. "Possibly tired from working nonstop all morning on a new nest, this particular Bald Eagle wasn't showing its best form," said photographer David Eppley, a finalist in the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

6/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET A ruby-crowned kinglet in California looks like it's ready for a game of Angry Birds. Photographer Patrick Dirlam followed it around for 15 minutes before it paused to pose. It's both cute and huffy, and that expressive face earned the image a spot as a finalist in the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

7/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET A brown bear lounges in Kodiak, Alaska, after having pawed out a bear bed to flop down in. "I would have to say she was the most provocative bear I had ever seen," said photographer Wenona Suydam.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

8/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET It wasn't just ground and air dwellers that got in on the action for the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. This boxfish in the Caribbean looked like it was ready to step into a kissing booth. Photographer Philipp Stahr said these fish are notoriously hard to photograph, since they tend to turn away from divers.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

9/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET A monkey and giraffe duo in Uganda delivered a perfect trick of the eyes. The monkey looks like it's going for a ride, but it's actually climbing a branch in the foreground.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

10/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET Kangaroos sometimes get into kicking battles. This particular 'roo in Australia missed and wound up showing off its gams.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

11/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET This group of langur monkeys in India obviously has at least one superstar in the mix.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

12/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET A trio of Gentoo penguins in the Falkland Islands appear to be very in tune with each other. "I really enjoyed photographing this moment as it seems to capture some sassy personality displayed by these individuals," said photographer Joshua Galicki.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

13/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET You don't have to be an exotic critter to get a nod in the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. This UK pigeon with a leaf on its face is a finalist.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

14/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET A raccoon in France found itself clinging to the outside of a window. Photographer Nicolas de Vaulx suspected the animal was trying to break in to steal food.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

15/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET A brown pelican in Louisiana looks like it's shrugging its shoulders. "As the pelicans woke up, they would shake the water off their bodies before heading out to fish," said photographer Dawn Wilson, a finalist in the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards competition.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

16/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET Photographer Vicki Jauron created this portfolio entry for the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards with four shots of an elephant taking a mud bath in Zimbabwe. Portfolio entries feature a series of shots.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

17/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET A ground squirrel in Hungary looks like it's taken up a musical instrument.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

18/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET A golden silk monkey in China appears to be in an uncomfortable position in this photo from Ken Jensen of the UK. Jensen explained that it's not what it looks like. The monkey is actually showing aggression and not pain.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

19/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET A waving polar bear in Alaska appears to be photobombing a sweet portrait of two other bears. "A tender moment is shared by mom and one cub while the other photo-bombs with a wave to the onlookers. Or, it sure looked like a wave," said photographer Cheryl Strahl.

bruce the parrot lost half his beak. now he's developed his own self-care routine

20/20 SLIDES © Provided by CNET This should make you smile. Photographer Axel Bocker took a glorious dragonfly close-up in Germany and earned a spot as a finalist in the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. Check out all the finalists at the competition's website and vote for your favorite.

Bruce was rescued from the wild in 2013. Researchers suspect his injury might be due to a run-in with a pest trap. His lives with other kea in an aviary. Bruce is given soft food that's easy to handle without a full beak, but he's also figured out how to press harder foods against other objects in order to eat.

The university's Animal Minds Lab released a video showing Bruce's work with both the pebble and the harder foods.  

None of Bruce's kea buddies in the aviary have shown pebble-preening behavior, indicating it's a behavior he invented himself.

Said lead author Amalia Bastos, "Kea do not regularly display tool use in the wild, so to have an individual innovate tool use in response to his disability shows great flexibility in their intelligence." Bruce isn't just a pretty bird; he's a smart, resourceful bird.   

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