Friday, July 22, 2011

Screw the Cracker, Polly Wants You to Use Her Real Name

Wild Parrots Get Names From Parents
Before a green-rumped parrotlet is even able to chirp and squawk, mom and dad teach it a distinct series of sounds used by parrots to recognize a specific individual. In short, they give their nestling a name.

Researchers have observed captive parrots using so-called contact calls to identify mates and family members, but didn’t know how birds were named in the wild. Maybe they didn’t learn from their parents, but had contact calls hard-wired from birth. Or maybe it was an aberration of captivity.

To find out, Cornell University ornithologist Karl Berg and his team swapped eggs between nests in a wild parrotlet population they’d studied since 1987. Half the parrotlet pairs raised foster chicks, who used the contact calls demonstrated by their adoptive parents. Were the calls hard-wired, they’d have used their biological parents’ calls...
It's got to be embarrasing, having a bird smart enough to use your name, but not know its name.

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