Cristy Gelling laments the high levels of lead found in deceased New Zealand kea, “among the most devastatingly intelligent birds on the planet.” They often poison themselves by chewing on “lead-headed nails and lead roof flashing”:
The kea’s unusual culinary experiments are well known to visitors to New Zealand’s Southern Alps, who often find gangs of the parrots “eating” their rental cars. … But these destructive behaviors are crucial to the kea’s ability to find food in their harsh mountain habitats. Many juvenile kea do not survive their first winter, and to avoid starvation they must be willing and able to eat almost anything they find. It is their distinctive curiosity and intelligence that gives them the behavioral flexibility to exploit new sources of food as they become available.
(Photo of two kea by Maria Hellstrom)