How Smart is your Parrot? Part 2

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Complete Psittacine by Eb Cravens

Homo sapiens stand out from other animal species on earth because of their social systems, their ‘cultural creations’ so to speak. In order for many different individuals in a population to coexist, it takes understanding of rules and behaviour roles within the social system. Orcas show this, Ravens show this, Gorillas, Bees, Mynah birds and Prairie Dogs all show this. And, of course, parrots show this. Parent parrot birds teach their offspring the correct ways to act within the flock of African Greys, or Sun Conures, or Blue Mountain Lorikeets, just as our parents presumably taught us accepted behaviour in the society of people. Individual birds not intelligent enough, or too rebellious to fit in properly, are chastised or ostracised or driven out of the society.

A favourite study of mine this past ten years or so has been the subtle differences between members within my five-generation family tree of Yellow-fronted Amazon parrots. The founder wild-caught birds versus the captive hand-raised birds, the parent-raised and taught individuals, versus the nursery chicks later fledged into the colony, the early pulled Yellow-fronts, the abused and rehabbed Yellow-fronts and many other intricate combinations of related upbringing.

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