Category: Behavior

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.

cockatiel face

Webinar: “Pet Birds & Hormonal Behavior: Part 2!”

We are hosting a live follow-up webinar this Friday, May 15! Stephanie Lamb, DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice) will offer more tips on dealing with hormonal behavior, and answer viewer questions. Don’t miss “Pet Birds & Hormonal Behavior: Part 2!”

green-rumped parrotlet pair

Study Suggests Parrots Name Their Chicks

We give our babies names, but do parrots also “name” their young by using distinct chirps specific to an individual chick? One scientist decided to listen more closely to what might really be going on when birds chatter. He constructed nests in Venezuela and recorded the peeps of green-rumped parrotlets. The results suggest that parrot parents give their chicks individual names.

African greys eating treat on table

Inside Pepperberg’s Lab: Parrots Adapt During Coronavirus Lockdown

Dr. Irene Pepperberg fills us in on how African greys Griffin and Athena, as well as she and her staff, are handling their “new normal,” albeit hopefully a temporary one. She also dishes on how they found some creative ways to celebrate two big milestones — the birds’ birthdays!

graphic of the COVID-19 virus

Webinar: “COVID-19 And Pet Birds”

Join us for a live, interactive webinar hosted by Laura Doering, former editor of Bird Talk magazine and Birds USA magazine. Our special guest Stephanie Lamb, DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice) will discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, how it pertains to pet birds, and how we can keep our pets safe and healthy.

Amazon parrot eating leaves from perch in cage

Fresh Foraging Ideas To Try

Offering our bird’s foraging opportunities with pellets, Nutri-Berries, and healthy snacks is a great way to satisfy their work-for-food instincts. Other great foraging opportunities await with fresh, edible, non-toxic plants. In the wild, part of a bird’s search for food means tearing through a plant to get to the more desirable parts. It’s no surprise that parrots like to chew! Discover tips for creating an edible “foraging jungle” for your pet bird.

African grey parrot

Webinar “Tune In To Your Birds Daily Habits”

Webinar: “Tune In To Your Birds Daily Habits” Date: Friday, April 3, 2020 Time: 12:00 – 12:30pm PST (double-check your local time with this time zone converter) Join us for a live, interactive webinar hosted by Laura Doering, former editor of Bird Talk magazine and Birds USA magazine. Our special guest Stephanie Lamb, DVM, DABVP […]

African grey parrot

Tune In To Your Bird’s Daily Habits

Many of us are having to stay home from work, school and other social activities to reduce the chances of coming into contact with and spreading the COVID-19 disease. Although this time of self-isolation may be challenging, it can also be thought of as an occasion to spend a little more time with our feathered friends and other pets. As pet owners are at home and observing their birds at times where they may not normally, they may discover that their birds tend to follow routines daily, just like we do!

Dr Pepperberg nose to beak with African grey named Griffin

Inside Pepperberg’s Lab: Life In The Time Of Coronavirus

What’s an academic science lab to do when e-mails from the administration start popping up stating in-person instruction was to cease immediately, followed by directives to vacate the campus in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis? What if said science lab was home to a flock of parrots known around the world for their contributions to the study of cognitive behavior? Dr. Irene Pepperberg and her research assistants found themselves in a scramble to ensure everyone— birds and humans — found safe places to stay. See where everyone is now.

African grey portrait

Comparative Cognition — The Joys & Difficulties

A lot of planning goes into creating ways to test the parrots’ intelligence to see how they perform on tasks compared to the results of those undertaken by children and primates. But what happens when two hands are required to solve a problem? Dr. Pepperberg describes the challenges and possible solutions to an intelligence test to circumvent the fact that parrots are hands-free.

members of sun parakeet project

The Parakeet Rangers of Guyana

One Earth Conservation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization co-founded by Dr. LoraKim Joyner, who has worked in parrot conservation for over three decades. The organization encourages communities in Latin America to support and/or get involved in parrot conservation. Here Dr. Joyner gives us a peek at a recent sun parakeet outreach project in Guyana.

African grey

A Test To See If Parrots Are Willing To Help Each Other

Are parrots willing to help a fellow parrot even though there appears to be nothing in it for them? A team of behavioral scientists put blue-headed macaws and African grey parrots to the test. See which of the two species passes the parrot kindness test.

African grey parrot

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Can African Greys Spot Which Container Holds More Liquid?

African grey parrots Athena and Griffin are tasked with the challenge of tracking the larger amount of liquid that is poured into various containers to test their grasp of the concept of “overconservation,” where the experimenter starts with different amounts and tests whether the subjects can track the larger amount after various transformations. See where the parrots succeeded as well as what tended to slip them up on this highly challenging task.

Amazon parrot

Parrot Behavior Consultants: Who They Are & How They Can Help

Life with a parrot companion can sometimes mean dealing with a situation that you don’t quite understand or that might be causing discord in the home. A certified parrot behavior consultant can help. Learn what it takes to be certified, and how these specialists can assist you.

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