Two birds species have brought attention to scientists all over the world: the Keas in New Zealand and the New Caledonian Crows. Way beyond known bird behaviour, these prodigies of the animal kingdom show very special skills!
The Keas in New Zealand are the only parrots that live in snowy mountain areas. They like testing their brains, solving puzzles and challenging tourists: they unscrew bottle-tops, dismantle windscreen wiper blades and tear open rucksacks. They seem so determined; you’d think they have an understanding of physics and mechanics! Thousands of miles northwards, in New Caledonia, other birds have talent, too. Bird expert Gavin Hunt discovered that the crows are able to produce a whole set of tools, each designed for a particular purpose – the most intricate tool culture in the animal kingdom!
The scientists are spellbound. Are these birds following innate behaviour patterns or are they really intelligent? The ultimate avian I.Q. test begins: Keas vs. crows.
Near Vienna, Austria, a Kea Colony is working with levers, ropes, balls and tubes - and even operate a PC by touch screen! Some New Caledonian crows reveal more surprising cognitive abilities as well: They can recognize themselves in a mirror, thus demonstrating a sort of self-awareness - a capacity only few mammals have shown, like chimpanzees, whales or elephants. So we wonder, what is the secret of their intelligence?
“Beak & Brain” combines the entertaining aspects of animal behaviour with the educating but also fascinating facts of scientific research. The transition between wild, untamed nature and amusing sequences in the lab is captured congenial with camera styles varying from super slow motion HD to a “larvae cam” to show the fishing skills (!) of crows.
This documentary is a treat that shows two geniuses of the animal kingdom compete with each other with some funny and surprising results