Intelligent parrots

Intelligent parrots: The Psittacidae represent a group of birds including parrots which, like corvids, are distinguished by their astonishing cognitive abilities.

Intelligent parrots are well-known among corvids. But in the world of psittacines, many species also stand out for their amazing cognitive abilities. Discover in this article the incredible abilities of parrots.

The level of Intelligent parrots very often compares to that of monkeys. Even if their cognitive abilities are inferior to primates and a two-year-old child. By presenting the same tests to parrots, primates, monkeys, and children, the birds obtained results superior to monkeys and comparable to chimpanzees.

Cognitive abilities of parrots: they are able to solve problems

Logical or causal reasoning is the ability to solve problems, draw conclusions, and establish cause-and-effect relationships between them. There are many ways to measure this type of reasoning in animals. In the case of comparative studies between parrots, monkeys, and primates, it took a whole series of tests.

The parrots were particularly remarkable during various experiments: choosing between several threads and pulling the thread which earned them a reward, using tools, or succeeding in the cap game. In other words, exercises in which it is necessary to establish cause and effect learning in order to obtain a reward.

The brain of parrots explains their cognitive abilities

Like primates, parrots have a highly developed region connecting the cortex and the cerebellum. In birds, this area is called the medial piriform cortex, and in parrots, this area is two to five times larger than in other birds. Although their brains are not very big.

The equivalent area in mammals are the pontine nuclei, which are larger in humans and primates compared to other mammals.

The neural pathways that connect the cortex to the cerebellum are thought to play a fundamental role in controlling complex behaviors. It could also be the answer to the surprising cognitive abilities of parrots.

Do parrots understand what they say?

Thanks to their syrinx, parrots can imitate human sounds, words, and voices. But,  do they understand what they are saying or is it only by imitation? With new discoveries about their intelligence, imitation without learning is being questioned. Can parrots learn sounds and manipulate them according to any criteria?

In nature, psittacines live in social groups and communicate through different sounds. Each group (and even each breeding pair) has its own well-differentiated dialect. As well as a whole call register with very subtle modifications for each situation.

The most curious thing is that these calls are learned and are not innate in the chicks. If we change one nest for another, the chicks will learn the “language” of their adoptive parents. Parrots also recognize each other through the association of certain sounds. As if each individual had a first and last name.

This ability to use sounds at the same time as their intelligence shows us that parrots have impressive cognitive abilities.

SOURCE: African Grey Parrot Pet

African grey parrot Alex

The case of the gray parrot Alex is an eloquent example to admire the incredible skills of parrots. His supervisor, psychologist Irene Pepperberg, has trained him for 30 years. During these years, Alex managed to learn 100 different words, and distinguish colors, shapes, materials, and quantities from one to six.

The intelligence of an African grey parrot was compared to that of a five-year-old child. Alex’s work included many repetitions and associations, through which he was able to identify the shape, material, and color of an object presented to him by Irene.

SOURCE: AnimalWised

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