Parrots: All Talk, No Trousers?
A study has suggested that parrots may have more reasons for imitating and learning vocalisations than just simple, mindless imitation. Researchers at the University of Georgia have studied hours of video footage of a home raised talking African Grey parrot (named Cosmo). They found that her talking habits and topics of conversation differed widely depending on which people were around her, what they were doing and how far away they were from her. 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. Cosmo was even found to say “where are you” or “I’m here” when her owner was in another room in the house, showing an awareness of spatial location. 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’),” according to the researchers.