From: The New York Times

Parrots Are a Lot More Than ‘Pretty Bird’

The New York Times:

Juan F. Masello never intended to study wild parrots. Twenty years ago, as a graduate student visiting the northernmost province of Patagonia in Argentina, he planned to write his dissertation on colony formation among seabirds.

But when he asked around for flocks of, say, cormorants or storm petrels, a park warden told him he was out of luck.

“He said, ‘This is the only part of Patagonia with no seabird colonies,’” recalled Dr. Masello, a principal investigator in animal ecology and systematics at Justus Liebig University in Germany. Might the young scientist be interested in seeing a large colony of parrots instead?

The sight that greeted Dr. Masello was “amazing” and “incredible,” he said. “It was almost beyond words.”

Parrot partisans say the birds easily rival the great apes and dolphins in all-around braininess and resourcefulness, and may be the only animals apart from humans capable of dancing to the beat.

“We call them feathered primates,” said Irene Pepperberg, who studies animal cognition at Harvard and is renowned for her research with Alex and other African grey parrots.

“They’re very good colleagues,” said Alice Auersperg of the University of Vienna, who studies the Goffin’s cockatoo of Indonesia.

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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