[ExI] Parrots learn to make video calls to chat with other parrots

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Mon Apr 24 00:17:33 UTC 2023

Parrots learn to make video calls to chat with other parrots, then
develop friendships
by Schuyler Velasco      April 21, 2023

A new study from researchers at Northeastern University, in
collaboration with scientists from MIT and the University of Glasgow,
investigated what happened when a group of domesticated birds were
taught to call one another on tablets and smartphones.

The research team, which has deployed computer interaction to enrich
and understand the lives of animal species ranging from dogs to orcas,
honed in on parrots for a few reasons. Their intelligence is
extraordinary; certain species, like cockatoos and African greys, have
demonstrated cognitive capabilities equal to that of an
early-elementary-aged child.

The researchers then observed how the birds used that newfound ability
over a three-month period. They wondered: If given the choice, would
the birds call each other?
The answer, relayed in delighted squawks and head bobs, was a
resounding yes. “Some strong social dynamics started appearing,”
Kleinberger says.

Not only did the birds initiate calls freely and seem to understand
that a real fellow parrot was on the other end, but caretakers
overwhelmingly reported the calls as positive experiences for their
parrots. Some caregivers watched their birds learn skills from their
video friends, including foraging, new vocalizations and even flying.
“She came alive during the calls,” reported one.

Two sickly, elderly male macaws paired together in the study had
scarcely seen another macaw in their lives, yet formed a deep
bond—dancing and singing enthusiastically together through the screen
and calling “Hi! Come here! Hello!” whenever one or the other moved
out of the video frame.

Parrots are smart!


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