As yet another wildly varying differences of opinions in science.
Varies from, “OK, we’ll give you this – Your parrot might be smart enough to know what you are saying”…
[via World-Science.net] Far from just mindlessly repeating sounds they hear, pet parrots may have a purpose for their vocal expressions, including trying to try to track their owners’ location, a study has found.
While many owners will attest that pet parrots have a purpose in their talking, the subject was little studied before recently. Certainly parrots have shown feats of intelligence—one reportedly formed a concept of the number zero—but most research on captive parrots has focused on lab-reared birds’ responses in question-and-answer tasks, scientists say.
The new study instead analyzed the types of sounds a parrot decides to make spontaneous, and how these might vary depending on social context.
An African Grey parrot (photo by Dominic Morel)
Researchers at the University of Georgia studied hours of videotape of a home-raised, talking African Grey parrot named Cosmo. They noted what they called significant differences in her talking habits, and themes addressed, depending on which people were around her, what they were doing and how far away they were.
“Cosmo’s vocal production is far from random and is strongly influenced by the context created by variations in her social partner’s physical presence and willingness to reciprocate interaction,” wrote the researchers, Erin N. Colbert-White and colleagues, in the May issue of the Journal of Comparative Psychology.
The bird vocalized almost twice much when the owner was in a neighboring room than when the owner was either out of the house or in the same room, they found.
“When she and her owner were in separate rooms,” they wrote, Cosmo was “significantly more likely” to use utterances involving her spatial location or that of her owner, Colbert-White and colleagues wrote. These included “where are you” and “I’m here.” Some of these sounds might thus be an “adaptation of the wild parrot contact call,” they added—a type of call birds make when trying to determine the location of out-of-sight flock mates.
Moreover, “when her owner was in the room and willing to reciprocate communication, the parrot was more likely to use [sounds] that, in English, would be considered solicitations for vocal interaction (e.g., ‘Cosmo wanna talk’),” they wrote.
“Any parrot owner can attest to the strong social bonding that occurs between human caregivers and their home-raised African Greys,” they noted. “Home-raised parrots often treat their human caregivers like a conspecific [member of the same species] pair mate.”
The researchers set up the videocamera near Cosmo’s cage and allowed the owner, a woman they would identify only as B.J., to tape one-hour sessions at her convenience. Twelve hours of recordings were eventually used for analysis. An independent observer categorized the words and phrases uttered by the bird to avoid bias, the researchers said. “Linguistic analysis revealed that Cosmo’s complete repertoire comprised 278 different units that ranged in length from one to eight words or nonword sounds,” they noted. [Read More]
“OMG – Parrots? Totally as smart as apes, I swear!”
[via New Scientist] Parrots join apes and Aristotle in the club of reason
Humans do it. Great apes do it. Now a parrot has shown it can use logical reasoning to work out where food is hidden.
Sandra Mikolasch of the University of Vienna’s Konrad Lorenz Research Station in Austria and her colleagues first checked that seven African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) had no preference for the two types of food on offer, seeds or walnuts.
Then each parrot watched a researcher hide a walnut under one opaque cup and a seed under another. Next the researcher hid the cups behind a screen, removed one of the treats and showed the bird which one had been taken. Finally, the screen was removed to see if the parrot could work out which treat must remain, and under which cup it must be.
Only one of the parrots, a female called Awisa, was able to do this, choosing correctly in three-quarters of the tests – 23 out of 30. “So far, only great apes have been shown to master this task,” says Mikolasch. As with the parrots, only some apes could solve the problem, she says. “So we now know that a grey parrot is able to logically exclude one possibility in favour of another to get a reward, known as ‘inference by exclusion’.”
The other parrots chose more randomly, suggesting they hadn’t worked out what was going on. But they did show their mettle in easier tests, where the cups were in view throughout. [Read More]
What can be said…
But one has to love the variations.
Thanks to them?
One can find a little bit of something for everyone.
BIRD BRAINIAC – EXTRAORDINARY ANIMALS –
ANIMAL PLANET SPECIAL – Air Date: 7/5/2008:
Meet Congo African Grey, GRIFFIN, who has succeeded ALEX in helping Dr. Irene PEPPERBERG of Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, prove that Parrots are sensitive, intelligent, thinking, feeling creatures!
THIS IS A PRODUCTION BY THE BBC —
See Full Article Here:
NARRATED BY: William Shatner
For more info, visit THE ALEX FOUNDATION
(where you can also watch the FULL 22-Minute Video): http://www.alexfoundation.org/griffin_the%20_parrot.html
Also making an appearance is famous African Grey, EINSTEIN, together with Stephenie White from the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee.
Visit the Knoxville Zoo’s Website for more information on Einstein and AFRICAN GREY PARROTS:
You can watch a video of EINSTEIN performing at the Zoo’s YouTube Channel:
And please remember…’DON’T BUY, DON’T BREED, ADOPT A PARROT IN NEED!’