How parrots can solve problems

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iol scitech aug 8 parrot INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS The test was taken by three male and three female African greys from a rescue centre. Picture: Mujahid Safodien

London - It’s been assumed up to now that parrots are only capable of learning, er, parrot fashion. But it seems these birds are far smarter than we thought.

In a test that puzzled monkeys and defeated dogs, parrots have passed with flying colours. Indeed, so tricky were the mental processes involved, that only great apes and, of course, humans, have succeeded before.

The test was taken by three male and three female African greys from a rescue centre. Pieces of walnut were hidden inside one of two opaque containers.

One or both was then shaken and the birds, which are used to the idea of the containers holding treats, used their beak to upend the one with the hidden walnut 70 to 80 percent of the time.

This suggests they were able to link the rattling of the walnut pieces with the presence of food.

And perhaps, more importantly, when just the empty container was shaken, to realise the lack of noise meant the treat must be in the other tube.

The University of Vienna team which carried out the research said the results were remarkable, adding that the parrots did as well as three-year-old children.

Researcher Dr Christian Schloegl told the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: “Such behaviour has so far been shown only in great apes but not in any other non-human animal.” - Daily Mail

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