As you can see in the video, Szabo and her team put a treat under a magnetized cover. This allowed the researchers to move the object from underneath the table.
The researchers moved the object behind and underneath three boxes. In one of the more seemingly difficult experiments, they placed three cups on a board in the middle of the table. The treat was under one of the cups. The researchers then, from under the table, spun all three cups around. When the cups stopped rotating, the birds had to figure out where the treat was.
In another version of the experiment, a man held one of the birds and walked it around the table in a circle. This attempt to disorient the cockatoo failed. The bird simply jumped off the guy and quickly found the treat.
Even adult humans fail miserably trying to play these types of games, which is probably why magicians and others still bring the birds along to fairs, birthday parties and other events.
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So, why would the birds have evolved such tracking skills in the first place?