1 2
JThw8
JThw8 PowerDork
2/20/14 5:59 p.m.
confuZion3 wrote: My parents have an African Grey. It seems like he learns new phrases and words all the time. I used to think that he was just mimicking the sounds. But it's always more than that. When he sees us cooking, it's "Ready to eat?" "Let's eat!". I walked in the house once and called for my sister. He answered in her voice "What?". He also plays a game when we let him out where he just follows you around and bites you (he sees the dogs do it, but he doesn't know they're not hurting us). I got annoyed by it once, and I jumped up and made a loud noise. He flapped his wings and scooted back and yelled "E36 M3!". He started to do it again, so I jumped and made more noise and his response was a high-pitched "berkeley you!" He stopped playing that game for the rest of the day.

Greys are amazing. If you ever see any of the tapes of Alex the parrot and Irene Pepperberg you'll never doubt that there is very cognitive use of language by birds. Before he passed Alex could identify shapes, colors etc. Irene could lay out a table of multicolor shapes and Alex could identify all of one color or all of one shape, etc. Her work and his skills went far beyond tricks and were not context based. Surf YouTube for some videos of him. Most of the stuff is early videos which are impressive but not as amazing as some of the things he was doing before he passed away.

This video highlights some of his skills. I'm not a terribly emotional person but as this is a tribute video I still get a bit choked up, I got to meet Irene and Alex on a few occasions and they were very close and I still hurt for her to think he's gone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXoTaZotdHg

JoeyM
JoeyM Mod Squad
2/20/14 6:26 p.m.
Ransom wrote: the most excellent Oatmeal had an interesting childhood experience with an evil one (or maybe his family were jerks. anyhow...).

That was wonderful.....I haven't laughed that hard in weeks. I literally have tears in my eyes right now.

tr8todd
tr8todd HalfDork
2/20/14 6:38 p.m.

When I was a kid, my uncle Ralph rescued a baby crow and made it into a family pet. First thing the crow learned to say was "Ralph get up". That was something my aunt would yell up the stairs several times every morning. After that he learned to swear like a sailor. My uncle would sit on the porch with the crow and let him "talk" to everybody that would walk by. Once in a while the crow would fly off and head for down town, where he would sit above the main street and swear at everybody. Uncle Ralph would get the phone call out at the dairy farm to come get his bird.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
2/20/14 7:12 p.m.
JThw8 wrote: Greys are amazing. If you ever see any of the tapes of Alex the parrot and Irene Pepperberg you'll never doubt that there is very cognitive use of language by birds. Before he passed Alex could identify shapes, colors etc. Irene could lay out a table of multicolor shapes and Alex could identify all of one color or all of one shape, etc. Her work and his skills went far beyond tricks and were not context based. Surf YouTube for some videos of him. Most of the stuff is early videos which are impressive but not as amazing as some of the things he was doing before he passed away. This video highlights some of his skills. I'm not a terribly emotional person but as this is a tribute video I still get a bit choked up, I got to meet Irene and Alex on a few occasions and they were very close and I still hurt for her to think he's gone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXoTaZotdHg

Really jealous you got to meet Dr.Pepperberg and Alex. And you're not kidding about the stuff they were doing toward the end of his life. The YouTube videos barely scratch the surface.

Near the end of his life, Alex was showing extremely advanced use of not just his vocabulary, but the mechanics of words. He would combine different parts of different words to create new words that he had never been specifically taught to express concepts that he had not been specifically taught. He was basically showing signs that he understood that words were not just symbols, but part of a larger abstraction that we call language.

He also had a computer set up in his cage that he enjoyed using. He had a basic "web brewer" type setup where he could manipulate a joystick to choose from different menu options on a screen, then press a button to select those options. After he got comfortable with its use, they saw firm patterns in what he would select, showing a degree of conscious use. There were certain videos or music he listened to at certain times of the day, and he would frequently watch videos of certain lab assistants that he liked if he hadn't seen them in a while.

There's a cooperative project going on right now between the universities on Oxford and Vienna doing research with goffins cockatoos. We've got three of the things and it look like the research is revealing something we've known for a while, which is that they're basically little feathered engineers. They're such master escape artists, we don't even bother with cages anymore except for sleeping. We just built them a room. I'm convinced if they ever got into the garage they's wast no time building some sort of siege weapon.

The university research is showing they have measurable skill in complex object manipulation: http://www.sci-news.com/biology/science-goffins-cockatoos-mechanical-problems-01198.html

Tool use AND tool building. Crows are well known to use tools, but except for a few outliers, until recently we thought that only apes actually built them: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2012/121106.html

And if that doesn't get them what they want, they're perfectly willing to negotiate: http://www.kurzweilai.net/doing-business-with-a-parrot-goffin-cockatoos-trade-with-nuts-in-an-exchange-experiment

JThw8
JThw8 PowerDork
2/20/14 7:22 p.m.

I had a goffin for awhile (my list of feathered friends includes 2 greys, a goffin,a sulfur crested, a blue and gold macaw, a red front macaw, 2 yellow naped amazons) Great birds but yes cages are pointless, aside from the escape artist side of them they are so needy about being with people they will just scream bloody murder if they are locked in a cage without you.

Sadly with 6 dogs and 5 cats I've had to forgo any feathered friends as they can't be out often enough and its not fair to them. When we move to FL I plan on having an aviary off the back of the house....sure the wife will call it a sun room, whatever, as long as she shares it with the birds :)

JThw8
JThw8 PowerDork
2/20/14 7:25 p.m.

And meeting Irene and Alex was a phenomenal experience. It was just about a year before he passed away. It was a very small affair put on by a local bird club maybe 20-30 people so you really got to interact with them both and she let people "test" him to prove he wasn't coached and there were no tricks. Even with all the obvious distractions (this was being held at a bird shop with many other birds, toys etc) he was able to communicate quite well.

Spoolpigeon
Spoolpigeon SuperDork
2/20/14 8:02 p.m.

A magician was working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The audience would be different each week, so the magician allowed himself to do the same tricks over and over again. There was only one problem: The captain’s parrot saw the shows each week and began to understand how the magician did every trick.

Once he understood, he started heckling the magician in the middle of each show: “Look, it’s not the same hat!” he’d shout. ”He’s hiding the flowers under the table!” “Hey, why are all the cards the ace of spades?”

The magician was furious but couldn’t do anything; after all, it was the captain’s parrot. One day the ship ran into trouble and sank. The magician found himself clinging to a piece of wood in the middle of the ocean with the parrot. They stared at each other with hate, but neither uttered a word. This went for a day and another and then another. Afer three days, the parrot finally spoke: “Okay, I give up. Where’s the boat?”

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
2/20/14 9:39 p.m.
JThw8 wrote: I had a goffin for awhile (my list of feathered friends includes 2 greys, a goffin,a sulfur crested, a blue and gold macaw, a red front macaw, 2 yellow naped amazons) Great birds but yes cages are pointless, aside from the escape artist side of them they are so needy about being with people they will just scream bloody murder if they are locked in a cage without you. Sadly with 6 dogs and 5 cats I've had to forgo any feathered friends as they can't be out often enough and its not fair to them. When we move to FL I plan on having an aviary off the back of the house....sure the wife will call it a sun room, whatever, as long as she shares it with the birds :)

my conure does well in her cage if I am not around.. but the moment she hears my Disco pull up.. she starts whistling and calling for me

TRoglodyte
TRoglodyte Dork
2/21/14 1:17 p.m.

My wife knows when I come home even if she doesn't hear the truck, the birds do and start hollering!

Jerry
Jerry Dork
2/22/14 4:46 p.m.

Our quaker took a dive while I was out of the room today & hurt his leg. 5hrs in a vet office on wooden bench and $500 later he has a sizable splint and 4 meds to show for it.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
2/22/14 8:57 p.m.
Jerry wrote: Our quaker took a dive while I was out of the room today & hurt his leg. 5hrs in a vet office on wooden bench and $500 later he has a sizable splint and 4 meds to show for it.

Aww man. Sorry to hear that. Hope he does well with the splint. They're amazingly resilient creatures, but shockingly fragile in some ways. It's a tough combo.

And it does underscore the importance of a good avian vet. A good one is something to be valued greatly. Our female eclectus got a nasty staph infection about four years ago. By all accounts she probably shouldn't have made it. But we have an amazing avian specialist vet in Jacksonville that treated her initially and has been doing her ongoing care since then. I'll never add up the bills. At some point you just do what it takes for a friend and get on with your life. I'm pretty sure our vet could put in a helicopter pad just on us, though.

JoeyM
JoeyM Mod Squad
2/23/14 12:11 a.m.
JG Pasterjak wrote: They're amazingly resilient creatures, but shockingly fragile in some ways. It's a tough combo.

hollow bones make for light weight, but they're not as strong as we'd like

Jerry
Jerry Dork
2/23/14 7:34 a.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak:

Thanks. SWMBO was in KY visiting friends so I was on point. She manages two vet clinics but they don't do birds/exotics so I had to look up 3-4-5 local places that did for her & she found one that got me in on short notice. Looked at the xrays and even I could see the bones were pretty lacking in density. She's crazy about researching online but the Dr was completely opposite on diet (he: pellets only, she: variety including veggies/fruit, bird bread, chop...)

One huge-ass splint later & he seems in good spirits. Dr said he should make a full recovery within 4-6 weeks.

JoeyM
JoeyM Mod Squad
2/24/14 7:08 a.m.

cute bird....glad he's on the mend

TRoglodyte
TRoglodyte Dork
2/24/14 7:49 a.m.

Wow, that sux. That splint is HUGE.

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
4tGlJUCfynzLgInDPfH9wqSgoqlLxCWrsIf2aiLa7dIF4ihue6FEYNzIeG5LTiWw