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Wild Parrots Learning To Talk From Escaped Pet Birds 225

Posted by samzenpus
from the planet-of-the-parrots dept.
bazzalunatic writes "Be careful what you teach a parrot. Some chatty pet parrots that have escaped back into the wild have taught wild parrots to talk. Seems the phenomenon could be integrated into the flock through generations. From the article: 'The evolution of language could well be passed on through the generations, says Ken. "If the parents are talkers and they produce chicks, their chicks are likely to pick up some of that," he says. This phenomenon is not unique; some lyrebirds in southern Australia still reproduce the sounds of axes and old shutter-box cameras their ancestors once learnt.'" While this doesn't reach the amazing level of Washoe the chimpanzee teaching sign language, it is still interesting and reminiscent of something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
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Wild Parrots Learning To Talk From Escaped Pet Birds

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  • Washoe is amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jgtg32a (1173373) on Thursday September 15, 2011 @11:33AM (#37410136)
    One of Washoe's caretakers was pregnant and missed work for many weeks after she miscarried. Roger Fouts recounts the following situation:
    "People who should be there for her and aren't are often given the cold shoulder--her way of informing them that she's miffed at them. Washoe greeted Kat [the caretaker] in just this way when she finally returned to work with the chimps. Kat made her apologies to Washoe, then decided to tell her the truth, signing "MY BABY DIED". Washoe stared at her, then looked down. She finally peered into Kat's eyes again and carefully signed "CRY", touching her cheek and drawing her finger down the path a tear would make on a human. (Chimpanzees don't shed tears.) Kat later remarked that that one sign told her more about Washoe and her mental capabilities than all her longer, grammatically perfect sentences."[22]
    Damn, that's incredible
  • by Manax (41161) <> on Thursday September 15, 2011 @11:42AM (#37410230) Homepage
    Parrots and other birds are trained very poorly via Pavlovian conditioning. That isn't the only type of training, and Model-Rival training works much more effectively on birds (which isn't to say anything about how it works on other animals).
  • by eclectus (209883) on Thursday September 15, 2011 @12:23PM (#37410760) Homepage

    I know a parrot that has put together new phrases to describe objects that he is unfamiliar with. He enjoys having water misted or sprayed lightly on him, and will ask for a 'shower'. However, he dislikes being outside in the rain. whenever he hears or sees rain outside, he proclaims 'bad shower' but was never taught that. he uses the same tonal inflection that he uses when he calls the dog over then says 'bad dog. go lay down'. He can be a jerk sometimes.

  • by eclectus (209883) on Thursday September 15, 2011 @12:24PM (#37410778) Homepage

    Or when he asked 'what color Alex?'. He knew many colors, but no one taught him the color grey. That showed comprehension as well as self awareness.

  • by RogerWilco (99615) on Thursday September 15, 2011 @12:58PM (#37411238) Homepage Journal

    I had a nest of Starlings under the roof as a teenager. When the hatchlings started to move around the neighbourhood, you could hear the sounds of DOOM everywhere, as I had been playing that a lot. ;-)

    There were about 6 of them going "ratatatata Boom Psshhh" all the time. It was funny.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas