(ORDO NEWS) — Parrots are known for their talents in mimicking human speech. But which of the many species of these birds is the real “talker bird”, “distinguished by intelligence and quick wits”? Now scientists know the answer to this question.
Parrots are capable of mimicking human sounds and words, but how well do they do it? How many words a “talking” parrot remembers on average, is it true that females learn worse than males, does the bird’s vocabulary expand with age – American researchers decided to answer all these questions, who conducted the largest comparative analysis of the vocal abilities of 73 species of parrots.
Sorbal data from the public science project What Does Polly Say? ( What Does Polly Say? ): Parrot owners filled out a standard questionnaire, reporting the number of human words and phrases used by their parrots, the melodies whistled by birds, and the use of human speech sounds in context. This made it possible to obtain information about almost 900 birds.
It turned out that the vocal abilities of “Polly” depend on many factors, for example, on the type of parrot: some birds, in particular the Jaco, memorized an average of about 60 words, Amazons and cockatoos – 20-30 words, but cockatiels and lovebirds more readily imitated sounds, and not words.
At the same time, the vocabulary almost did not depend on the age of the bird: 50-year-old and five-year-old birds of the same species were equally “eloquent”.
As for gender, here the results varied depending on the species: in some parrots, both males and females were equally willing to repeat words, in budgerigars , males turned out to be “more talkative” than females, and in yellow-headed Amazons, on the contrary, females spoke more willingly than males.
However, the researchers do not exclude that in this matter their data may be distorted by the owners of the birds themselves: 74 percent of those surveyed, not sure about the sex of their pets, indicated them as males.
The researchers also noted that the majority of birds (about 89 percent) did not utter words and sounds randomly, but in the appropriate context: for example, declaring “It’s time to eat” at the sight of a dinner table being laid.
In other words, the birds do not just “parrot”, but also understand what and when to say. The data obtained can serve as a basis for studying the physiological, neurobiological and evolutionary foundations of acoustic communication in nature.
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