Puffin scratching itself with stick said to be first evidence of seabird using tool

ICELAND (KGO) -- Perhaps puffins aren't as bird-brained as previously thought.

Researchers in Iceland say this video shows the first evidence of "tool-use" by a seabird.

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Motion-activated cameras in July 2018 caught the moment a puffin picked up a stick from the ground and used it to scratch its chest.

Experts guess the bird may have been trying to dislodge a tick.

Researchers from Oxford University and the South Iceland Nature Research Centre, say the puffins' use of a stick to scratch with represented not just a new use of a tool for physical maintenance, but new evidence of true tool use in an "avian order previously thought to lack the ability."

A second instance of the tool use was also observed by a puffin in Wales.

That the two instances spanned a distance of more than 1,000 miles suggested, researchers said, "that occasional tool use may be widespread in this group."

Similar behavior has been observed in captive parrots, which scratch themselves with sticks. In wild birds, the only previous known use of tools for physical maintenance was the practice of "anting", where birds deposit ants in plumage to kill insects or bacteria.
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