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Avian cognition is fascinating.
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Joanna Staebler-Kimmel's profile photoAngela Mia's profile photoRashid Moore's profile photoJohn Bump's profile photo
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I agree! I owned parrots for ten years. So smart. Such good companions.
 
The use of simple tools (like twigs) by crows to accomplish certain tasks is well-documented and fascinating, too.
 
So nice to let one's science geek flag fly here in G+. I don't think in 4 years of use that I ever saw the word "avian" or "cognition" in a single post in Facebook, let alone in the same post. What a breath of fresh intellectual air! +Jennifer Linsky 
 
One of the many things I found interesting in reading about Alex the gray parrot was that he'd gotten so good at learning he could teach other parrots how to count, and he'd also gotten so good he'd enjoy himself by messing with them and telling them stuff that was wrong, then cackling when they figured out he was screwing with their heads.
Even the cockatoos I hung out with clearly had pride, a sense of humor, and a sense about other animals being smart or dumb and having reasonable behavior expectations based on those assumptions.
 
+John Bump - so not only was Alex smart enough to enjoy fooling other birds, the other parrots were smart enough to figure out that he'd lied? that's crazy/awesome.
 
Alex may have been freakishly intelligent -- an outlier -- but he was probably comparable to children in early elementary school. Reading about the stuff he could do is eerie.
 
I first heard about Alex in a Big Picture Science podcast. He was fabulous!
 
One other avian cognition story. My ex-gf had this huge, very bright cockatoo, who preferred to drink from bottles or cans (because that's what humans did) but would drink from an open container in his cage if he didn't have a bottle handy. It was a fairly deep steel bowl, and he liked to stick his head in there and screech because it sounded weird. I was in there playing with him and whistled, then put my head in a bucket and whistled, and he cackled, and did the same thing. Then he froze and thought -- I could tell -- and screeched a weird distorted sound, that was his imitation of what he heard when he screeched with his head in the bowl. Then he looked at me, put his head in the bowl, and screeched the distorted sound and listened to that sound, tried imitating that, and so forth, for a few minutes before he lost interest. But watching him make the cause-and-effect realization and start experimenting with it, was a seriously eerie experience, a moment when I realized what his brain was capable of comprehending, albeit briefly.
 
I have always wanted an African Grey. I had a White Eyed Conure and a Spectacled Amazon, both incredibly smart, sensitive and affectionate. The conure had quite a vocabulary, about 50 words. He liked to climb up the drapes and walk back and forth across the top of the curtain rod, strutting and looking right at me and taunting me by saying, "Step up. Step up now!" over and over, because he knew I could not reach him. Little brat. :)
 
(I should add that "Step up" is the command typically used to have a bird step up onto your hand.)
 
Grays are a lot of work: they're aggressive and willing to head right into physical conflict. But it seems to me they're more emotionally stable than cockatoos -- more like Amazons in general.
I'd love to get to hang out with a conure. They seem like a lot of fun.
 
Conures are like clowns, they are so fun! But LOUD. :)
 
One of my birds learned my dog's name and would yell "bad dog! bad dog!" whenever the dog walked in the room. Drove the dog crazy. Similarly the cockatoos would yell "no! go to sleep!" if we turned on the lights in the room when they wanted to be sleeping.
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