In the quest to find the brainiest birds, two standouts have emerged: the New Caledonian Crow and the Kea (New Zealand's Alpine Parrot). Both birds seem perfectly capable of using tools to get rewards which demonstrates an ability to plan for the future and solving problems.
Both birds also share other characteristics in their native habitats. They are social, playful, curious, generalists that live in moderately productive environments. I've been to both New Caledonia and New Zealand's South Island, both are environments where avian ingenuity would be well served as the landscapes are not exceedingly biologically productive and diverse. I wonder if the traits and environmental characteristics that enable the NC Crows and Keas to be brainy and creative, may also prove to guide us as well?