Figaro's unusual talent came to light when a student observer at the University of Vienna's Goffin Lab noticed the cockatoo playing with a pebble. The bird dropped the stone through the aviary's wire mesh, where it landed on a wooden beam. Figaro tried to retrieve the stone with his claw. When that failed, he picked up a piece of bamboo and used it to try to rake the stone back into the aviary_but did not succeed.
After trying and failing to reach the nut with a tiny stick he found on the aviary floor, Figaro set about making what he needed. With his beak, he ripped off a large splinter from the wooden beam, a task that took him almost 25 minutes.
Holding his tool in his beak, he eventually raked the nut to a spot where he could grab it with his tongue and beak.
The scientists gave Figaro nine additional trials, and he made the tool required in all cases, except one, when he used a piece of bamboo from the floor. In one instance, he trimmed the side branches from a twig and attempted to use it as a rake_only to discover that the twig was too long. He then removed it and cut it twice with his beak, making a tool of exactly the right length.