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Parrots Smarter Than Two-Year-Old Kids

Aug 08, 2012 07:34 AM EDT
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Parrots discover clever way to get food quicker

A new study suggests that parrots have much better reasoning abilities than a two-year-old child.

A team of researchers tested six African Grey parrots to find out their reasoning abilities by shaking closed opaque boxes. The parrots were asked to choose between two boxes - one with snacks and the other one was just an empty box.

Researchers rattled both the boxes and the box with the snack made a noise, while no sound came from the empty box. They were astounded to notice that the parrots were able to choose the box with the snacks correctly even from the first trial, an intelligent reasoning capability that is so far has been seen only among humans and primates.

"It suggests that Grey parrots have some understanding of causality and that they can use this to reason about the world," study scientist Christian Schloegl, a researcher at the University of Vienna, told LiveScience.

In earlier studies researchers showed the empty box to the parrots and asked them to choose the box with food. The parrots were able to easily decide that the food should be in the other box. More impressively, when an empty box was shaken, the parrots could infer that the snack should be in the other box.

The Grey parrots picked up the boxes of food when the shaking and recorded noise matched up. The findings of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, showed evidence that the parrots have good reasoning ability and make judgments based on sound and sight. The study noted that small children can gain that reasoning ability only at the age of three.

The African Grey parrots are very intelligent and exceptionally good talkers. They were quick to respond when the experts shook the opaque boxes side-by-side. But the parrots were not sensitive when the box was shaken up and down. Experts pointed out that vertical shaking could have possibly distracted the parrots as it is similar to the common behavior of head bobbing among parrots, reported The Press Association.

Reasoning abilities have been seen among humans and primates. This is the first time that parrots have been tested successfully for reasoning ability.

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