Study Finds Parrots Can Learn To Video Call Each Other For Social Enrichment

Birds are often smarter than we give them credit for. In fact, a new study found that some birds, like parrots, can actually learn how to video call each other!

The research paper, “Birds of a Feather Video-Flock Together: Design and Evaluation of an Agency-Based Parrot-to-Parrot Video-Calling System for Interspecies Ethical Enrichment,” was published by the Association for Computing Machinery in April of 2023.

Photo: YouTube/Conservation Mag

In the study, researchers studied over 1,000 hours of video observations of 18 pet parrots over a three-month period. The parrots’ behavior during that time revealed that the parrots actually learned how to call each other with a little help from their human caretakers. In fact, during the 3 months, parrots initiated 147 calls with other parrots!

According to The Guardian, study co-author Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas said: “I was quite surprised at the range of different behaviors [on calls]. Some would sing, some would play around and go upside down, others would want to show another bird their toys.”

Photo: YouTube/Conservation Mag

It’s important to note that parrots are highly social animals that naturally live in flocks. However, many people keep individual parrots as pets which can greatly impact their wellbeing since they may struggle to feel socially fulfilled.

In the study, the authors wrote: “Over 20 million parrots are kept as pets in the US, often lacking appropriate stimuli to meet their high social, cognitive, and emotional needs.” They hoped that by developing a system in which the parrots could call other parrots, they might have some of their social needs fulfilled.

Overall, researchers noted that the parrots seemed to enjoy the social element of video calling.

Photo: YouTube/Conservation Mag

The paper reported that “every bird used the system, most birds exhibited high motivation and intentionality, and all caretakers reported perceived benefits, some arguably life-transformative, such as learning to forage or even to fly by watching others.”

The study authors now “propose considerations regarding ethics and the potential of parrot video-calling for enrichment.” It could be a really beneficial tool for pet parrots living alone to use to get social enrichment from other parrots!

You can see the parrots video calling each other in the video below:

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