Category: Behavior

African grey courtesy Dr. Irene Pepperberg

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Zoom Calls with African Greys Griffin & Athena

In her latest blog, Dr. Irene Pepperberg describes what it’s like to connect with African grey parrots Griffin and Athena over video call. She recounts that just like many people pivoted from in-person meetings to Zooming during COVID her cognitive behavior research lab had to do the same, including her flock! Learn how the parrots feel about their videoconference calls when she travels, as well as how a parrot’s hearing and vision differs from ours and the ways this might affect their video-calling experience.

Avian Vet Insider: Pet Bird Hormones Top 10

Spring will soon be here and along with it, pet bird enthusiasts might start to notice changes in their birds’ behavior. Join us on March 17 to know what might be going on with your bird as Dr. Lamb gives us a rundown of the Top 10 hormone-related questions and concerns she hears from pet bird owners.

Webinar: The Grey Way—African Grey Hormones Top 10

In this free webinar episode of The Grey Way—African Grey Hormones Top 10, Lisa Bono, CPBC, will help bird owners navigate their birds’ hormones as we head into spring! Sign up and tune in Friday, March 31, 2023!

face of Goffin's cockatoo

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Tool Use in Parrots

Dr. Irene Pepperberg gives us her take on new research about tool use among Goffin’s cockatoos. She talks about the propensity for tool use among other parrot species and the reasons why cockatoos might be more inclined to use tools compared to others.

quaker parakeet

Can Parrots Recognize Each Other’s Voices?

We know the voices of friends and family, but how well do parrots recognize each other’s “voices?” Fortunately, a biological survey undertaken by the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany, along with four scientists, gives us some insight into how well parrots recognize exact vocal prints in others of their kind. Specifically, they studied the vocalizations of 229 monk parakeets (also called quaker parrots), for a total of 5,599 recordings over a two-year period.

African greys, grey parrots

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Understanding & Using Human Speech

In her latest blog[, Dr. Irene Pepperberg talks about a less scientific category but nonetheless worthwhile one when it comes to wrapping our minds around parrot intelligence. The “by chance category,” is filled primarily with anecdotes as opposed to behavior that can be scientifically reproduced.

Avian Vet Insider: Feather Disorders in Pet Birds – Special Time 11AM PST

Join us on February 10, when Dr. Lamb will discuss feather disorders in pet birds. Dr. Lamb will first explore the various problems that can occur with feathers. She will discuss infectious diseases, nutritional problems, odd disorders, and yes, even that pesky topic—Feather Destructive Behavior(FDB).

crow, American crow, black bird

Crows Are Even Smarter Than We Thought!

In the latest study to gauge Covid intelligence, crows outsmarted monkeys. Researchers discovered that crows are quite adept at the cognitive ability referred to as recursion—that is, they can distinguish paired elements within larger sequences, which was once thought to be a purely human trait.

African grey parrot, grey

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Comparing Contrafreeloading in Kea & Grey Parrots

In her latest blog, Dr. Irene Pepperberg tells us about a study in which African greys Griffin and Athena, along with a few companion greys, were tested to see if they would work for food just for the fun of it. The study centered on the concept of “contrafreeloading” and involves working for food that could simultaneously be obtained for free. Interestingly, the same experiment was done with wild Kea parrots. See the different outcomes, as well as what parrot species is next in line to be put to the contrafreeloading test.

African grey parrot

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Play Is the Thing—If It Is the Right Type!

In her latest blog, Dr. Irene Pepperberg talks about individual preferences when it comes to parrots and toys. She gives us a glimpse of African greys Griffin and Athena’s favorite toys and their play styles. From paper and spoons to flannel and softwood, see who likes what. Dr. Pepperberg also reveals how Athena’s play behavior inspired a study on “countrafreeloading,” defined as working for food that can simultaneously be obtained for free.

budgie, parakeet head

For Parakeets, Smart Males Get the Females

What do birds look for in a mate? For female budgies, problem-solving ability appears to make males more attractive. From a revolutionary standpoint, it might serve birds well to opt for partners that show good foraging prowess. See the tricky way researchers got female budgies to ditch their preferred mates to those trained to solve puzzles.

African grey parrot

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Alex’s Number Concepts—Part IV

In her last installment of “Alex’s Number Series,” Dr. Irene Pepperberg reveals Alex’s numerical abilities that have yet to be demonstrated by any other nonhuman—quite a feat! Read on to find out how Alex the African grey parrot was the first, and so far the only, nonhuman to show that he inferred the cardinal values of new numbers from their ordinal values. In layman’s terms, Alex understood that numbers in order (i.e. “One, two, three…) meant that a number was one more than the preceding number and one less than the number after it.

Webinar: The Grey Way—Food Can Be Fun!

In this free webinar episode of The Grey Way—Food Can Be Fun, Lisa Bono, CPBC, will give her tips and tricks to get your bird to eat healthy foods! Sign up and tune in Friday, October 14, 2022!

African grey parrot

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Alex’s Numerical Abilities — Part II

In her latest blog, Dr. Irene Pepperberg takes us back to when Alex, her African grey protégé, and his numerical abilities: The challenge this time required that Alex comprehend the auditorially presented symbolic numeral label (e.g. “6”) and use its meaning to direct a search for the exact amount specified by that label (e.g. six things); that is, know exactly what a set of “X” individual items is, even when intermixed with other items representing different numerical sets, and he couldn’t just make approximations like label a set of five objects as “six” or “four.” Read on to see why, compared to young children on a similar task, Alex was more successful, and how this study led to an unexpected additional finding.

African grey parrot Alex sits on top of cage bars

Dr. Pepperberg’s Avian Cognition Lab Celebrates 45th Anniversary!

The Alex Foundation celebrates a special milestone this week — the 45th anniversary of when Dr. Irene Pepperberg began her groundbreaking collaboration with Alex the African grey! In this very special blog, Dr. Pepperberg takes us back to the early days of convincing others that parrot intelligence was worth studying and redefining the term birdbrained.

Dr Pepperberg nose to beak with African grey named Griffin

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Alex’s Numerical Abilities — Part I

In her latest blog, Dr. Irene Pepperberg talks about how African grey Alex didn’t learn his numbers in the traditional sense, especially when compared to young children. Alex’s number studies were unique in many ways, which also allowed him to outperform some of the other nonhumans on certain tasks. Learn why Dr. Pepperberg started training Alex on the numbers “three” and “four,” first as well as which number posed the biggest phonetic challenge, and more in this Part 1 of a two-part series.

two African grey parrots eating a treat on a table

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Hatchday Celebrations — Updated!

In her latest blog, Dr. Irene Pepperberg emphasizes the mantra “happy lab equals happy parrots!” and the importance of celebrating milestones — both for the humans and the birds. This can be a challenge when working around revolving volunteer schedules. One celebration that can’t be missed is the parrots’ hatchday!

close up head and shoulder image of a perched cockatoo

New Study On Birds Links Large Brains With Longevity

A ground-breaking study undertaken by researchers at the Max Planck Society is the first to demonstrate a direct link between brain size and longevity. By creating a massive database, the research team was able to glean reliable estimates of the average life spans of 217 parrot species — more than half of all known species!

African grey parrot Alex

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Alex’s Communication Skills

In her latest Lafeber blog, Dr. Irene Pepperberg shares Alex the African grey’s impressive grasp of words and his eagerness to expand his vocabulary. Learn more about Alex’s passion for learning, how his time in the lab differed from that of greys Griffin and Athena, and how he was very particular about his grapes!

Goffin's cockato

Cockatoos Learn To Golf In New Study

A new study by the Goffin Lab at the Messerli Research Institute in Vienna’s University of Veterinary Medicine gives new meaning to the golf term “Birdie” — Goffin’s cockatoos who know how to putt-putt to score a prized cashew reward.

Amazon parrot

Male Or Female? Your Bird’s Gender Goes Beyond Naming

Do you know your bird’s sex? Unlike cats and dogs, many popular parrot companions can be surprisingly hard to tell the difference between males and females by looking at them. Find out why knowing your bird’s sex can positively affect its health and well-being, and help you better understand your bird’s behaviors.

African grey; parrot and toy

Companion Parrots Need Busy Work To Thrive

A new study that included an online survey of nearly 1,400 pet parrots representing 50 species shed light on abnormal parrot behaviors like biting cage bars, pacing in the cage, and pulling out feathers. Researchers from the University of Guelph, University of Bristol, and Utrecht University drew on results from a 1990 study that looked at negative parrot behavior, and their results further support what other studies have pointed to — that foraging and other enrichment opportunities are essential to companion parrots’ well-being.

African grey parrot Alex

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Yes, Our Birds Mean What They Say

The most common question Dr. Irene Pepperberg encounters is if parrots truly understand what they are saying. In her newest blog, Dr. Pepperberg offers some notable experiences with African greys Alex, Griffin, and Athena that might not hold up to scientific scrutiny but are nonetheless valuable in demonstrating parrots’ impressive cognitive abilities.

African grey parrots

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Parrots On The Move—Again!

In her latest blog, Dr. Irene Pepperberg talks about African greys Griffin and Athena’s recent move into a spacious two-bedroom apartment. Surprisingly, the grey who typically doesn’t like change seems to be adjusting quicker than their flockmate. Dr. Pepperberg gives us the backstory.

African grey parrot

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Birds Do Not Like to be Tricked!

Dr. Irene Pepperberg explains the “treat substitution” trick, where a treat is moved from where the test subject assumes it should be or it is switched out with a less favored treat. Learn the reasons why birds and other prey animals form expectations of where food is located, and why they demonstrate a signs of distress when their expectations are challenged.

two African grey parrots eating leaf of chard

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Dealing with Picky Eaters

Parrots, like people, have their individualized tastes in food. This includes their own interpretations of what constitutes fresh produce, as well as the order in which food should be eaten. In her latest blog, Dr. Irene Pepperberg dishes on African greys Athena and Griffin’s specific food preferences.

African grey parrot

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Parrots & Vocal Learning

In her latest blog, Dr. Pepperberg explores parrots’ aptitude for vocal learning, specifically how their propensity to be open-ended vocal learners means that, unlike most animal species, they are capable of learning new utterances their entire lives.

webinar 37 slide promotes Lisa Bono discussing African grey behavior

Webinar: The Grey Way—African Grey Behavior

Join us Friday, February 19 for a free, interactive webinar. Our guest, Lisa Bono, CPBC, owner and operator of The Platinum Parrot and an associate-certified parrot behavior consultant specializing in African grey parrots, will talk about African grey behavior and answer questions from our viewers!

African grey

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Some Parrots Dislike Uncertainty & Novelty

Some birds are inclined to be cautious and wary of new things, while others seem to exhibit an immediate curiosity, and still more land somewhere in between. In her latest blog, Dr. Pepperberg discusses the concept of neophobia (dislike of novelty) and neophilia (attraction to novelty), and the degree of which it can vary among bird species. She also dishes on why our companion parrots tend to like consistent schedules.

African grey parrot

Inside Pepperberg’s Lab: Do Parrots Show Remorse?

When a prestigious behavior journal welcomed scientists to submit anecdotal observations of nonhuman actions that suggested possible comparisons with those of humans, a recent episode with African grey Griffin sprung to mind. Did Griffin show signs of remorse after delivering an unexpected bite?

kea parrot on ground

Kea Parrots Excel At Statistics

A new study on kea parrots, New Zealand’s native alpine parrot species, shows just how smart these famously intelligent birds are. With favored treats at stake, keas demonstrated a keen ability to act on their sense of probability to get treats. They even outperformed primates on some tasks. See how the parrots’ grasp of statistics fared when researchers put them to the test.

cockatoo face

Why You Should Rethink Allowing Your Parrot On The Floor

Companion parrots have both innate behaviors, which are instinctual (think flight!) and learned behaviors, such as figuring out how to reach a treat in a foraging toy. As our birds’ stewards, understanding both behaviors and how to work with them can serve us well in avoiding behavior issues. A “cute” behavior that may have encouraged by the caregiver in the beginning, can become a learned behavior that is adapted by the parrot that leads to negative consequences. Case in point – allowing a bird free roam on the floor, which results in chasing and biting feet. Learn why allowing a parrot to hang out on the floor can cause havoc and what to do instead.

African grey

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Can Parrots Win At The Shell Game?

How good are you at the “shell game”… can you follow an object that is shuffled around under shells or cups? Imagine being tested on your ability to track not just one colored object but four! Dr. Irene Pepperberg shares the results of how African grey Griffin’s visual working memory stacks up when compared to adults and children.

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