Category: Behavior

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.

African grey parrot

Do Parrots Understand What You Are Saying?

Can birds understand what their people are saying and/or understand what he or she is saying? Dr. Irene Pepperberg says the answer depends on the type of interactions parrots have with their owners. Discover how the way you interact with your feathered companion, as well as flock dynamics, can influence parrot communication.

African grey on perch by window

Pepperberg’s Lab: African Greys Get a Skyline View

Dr. Pepperberg takes us inside her Harvard lab, where African grey parrots Griffin and Athena call home. We also get a look at their cushy temporary quarters on the building’s eighth floor, complete with a breathtaking view of the Boston skyline. The panoramic view comes with potential visual encounters with a pair of red-tailed hawks—see how the greys react.

African grey parrot looking at keys

Pepperberg’s Lab: When Parrots Go “Off-Script”

Dr. Pepperberg’s work with parrots revolves around reproducing behaviors using scientific methods to attain statistical significance. Of course, parrots being parrots, there are plenty of incidents where one of her African greys says or does something that perfectly captures their mood or preference, but which cannot be scientifically documented. African grey Griffin, like Alex before him, certainly knows how to get his point across to Pepperberg and her research students. See how these anecdotes provide interesting insights into how the mind of a parrot may work.

eyes and nose of a dog

Birds & Other Pets: Why You Need To Be On Guard

If you share your home with companions of both the feathered and furred kind, you might long to see your pets hang out together and be best friends. But before you do, these real-life situations prove that the hazards are real and the consequences potentially tragic.

African grey headshot

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: Why Study Parrot Cognition?

Studies of nonhuman cognition have made, and continue to make, major contributions to our understanding of the origins and evolution of human cognitive processes, and much more. Parrot cognition studies in particular have a positive impact on pet bird care, conservation, child cognitive therapies, and even artificial intelligence. See what drives Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s passion for parrot research.

two budgies (parakeets) beak to beak

Female Budgies Prefer Puzzle-Solving Males & Other Bird-Centric News Stories

In this bird-centric news roundup, see the tricky way researchers got female budgies to ditch their preferred mates to those trained to solve puzzles, as well as learn as well as who packs a more powerful bite—T-Rex or finch? Also see how the engineering marvels of a birds’ feathers might one day inspire better adhesives and aerospace materials, and meet Alex the honking cockatiel, the viral sensation that saw his fame inexplicably explode across the internet.

yellow crown amazon parrot

How Good is a Parrot’s Long-Term Memory?

How well do parrots remember situations, other parrots, and people over the course of their long lives? Dr. Pepperberg, gives us a rundown on research that points to parrots as having brain areas that function in ways similar to the human cortex, and how their extremely high neural densities enable advanced cognitive processing—which requires good memory.

starlings in flight creating murmuration

In Sync: Starlings’ Mesmerizing Murmuration

Chances are, you’ve witnessed a murmuration of starlings. A murmuration is when a mass of starlings fly in a coordinated manner in what appears to be a moving black cloud. Discover how these birds are able to be so in sync.

African Grey Parrot on a perch looks at two differenty sized and colored plastic cups

Inside Pepperberg’s Lab: Putting Parrots’ Inferential Knowledge To The Test

When her colleagues at Harvard questioned Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s 2-cup test success that showed parrots are capable of inferential knowledge to make decisions, Pepperberg and students at her cognitive behavior research lab upped the ante from the 2-cup test to 3- and 4-cup tests. They once again put African grey Griffin to the test. See how Griffin fared, especially when a coveted Skittle treat reward was at stake.

caique portrait

Could a Pet Parrot Be Happy in Captivity?

Is it possible for a pet parrot to be as happy in captivity as they would be in the wild? Is parrot ownership more like prison … or could it be like a happy, perpetual childhood experience? As a bird mom to three cockatoos and a parrotlet, it is a question with which I wrestle […]

African grey parrot

Inside Pepperberg’s Lab: Fish &  Parrots  Outperform Apes & Monkeys

If you put parrots (specifically, African grey parrots), fish, monkeys and apes to the test on who could figure the fastest way to procure two rewards instead of one, who would come out on top? Dr. Pepperberg and friends of her cognitive behavior research lab recently modeled a test for her flock to see how they would fair in a choice-themed task inspired by wrasse fish, and tested on primates as well.

head of cockatoo

Teach Your Bird to Communicate “Yes” and “No”

We like to make our own choices when it comes to what we eat, what we do for entertainment and everything in between. What if we could extend this power to our parrots — give them the ability to communicate what they want and what they don’t want? Here’s a step-by-step approach to teaching your bird to communicate “Yes” or “No.”

african grey training

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: African Grey Parrots Show Self-Control

  Grey parrots may sometimes be impulsive—think about how often you may have had to give your bird multiple timeouts for the same behavior (like chewing on your sunglasses) in a very short time period. However, my students and I have shown that our parrot, Griffin, can actually exhibit quite a bit of self-control. We […]

African grey portrait

Inside Pepperberg’s Lab: Why Parrots Play Favorites

Dr. Pepperberg notes that she and her staff at her cognitive behavior research lab haven’t noticed a one-person tendency among her flock of birds; but she has experienced the avian equivalent of the “cold shoulder” from time to time. Get a glimpse of how flock dynamics can fluctuate in the wild and how parrots’ natural instincts might affect their behavior in the home.

African grey

Inside Dr. Pepperberg’s Lab: When Parrots Speak Their Mind…Or Not

If you are the director of a world-famous animal cognitive behavior research lab, what do you do when your feathered diva doesn’t follow directions? Dr. Irene Pepperberg and her assistants start by having African grey Athena watch her flockmate Griffin perform a requested task with the hope that she’ll be inspired to model his behavior. When that fails, see how Athena has her own way of proving just how smart parrots are.

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