All Posts Tagged ‘parrots

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Tweetie Revisited…

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Not long ago, one posted an article about Tweetie Pie, a Yellow Naped Amazon Parrot who lives with us and who seems to have well developed comprehension and language skills.  That previous article mentioned how Dr. Irene Pepperburg’s research on avian psychology suggests that many parrots have the mental understanding of a (human) 5 year old and the verbal capacity of a 2 year old.  We play learning videos and movies all day long for Tweetie and the two other birds who live with her.  They often, by the way, watch full length movies with as much interest and zeal as any human would.  When one walks into their room during a good movie, they don’t even look at what you are doing; and they watch the movie throughout its entire duration.  Anyone who lives with parrots (or dogs or other similar animals too) has the responsibility of exercising their minds and bodies daily.  With parrots, one can daily hold their feet and move them up and down and around repeatedly (so they vigorously flap their wings), so that they get substantial exercise; additionally, toys and fun objects can be given to them to play with often.  Being intelligent, they need a lot of attention and social interaction daily.  Be sure to daily exercise yourself too; many people don’t!

I am retired, and usually home, but earlier this week, Marla and i went to the doctors.  Later, that evening, i said to Tweetie, “What were you thinking about today, Tweetie?”  Tweetie responded with: “About you!”  I then said, “How sweet; thank you, Tweetie!”  Later, while i was preparing the birds’ food next to a large perch that she was on, i said to her, “Do you want a piece of apricot?”  She said, “I do.”  Earlier, when we were at the doctor’s office, one of the nurses we were talking with said that her parents have a parrot that talks with good comprehension.  We sure know what that is about!  Whenever Tweetie talks, it always has relevant meaning; it is not just mimicry.  

I used to be a teacher of students who were multiply handicapped and who had mental retardation.  I know, good and well, that correctly answering a question pertaining to the abstract concept of “thinking” takes a rather high level of cognitive processing.  Lately, over the last few days, one has been talking to Tweetie about simple philosophy and perception “beyond thinking.”  One, of course, has kept things very simple.  When i first told Tweetie that one can look at things without thinking — such that everything is “one thing” — she looked all around carefully as if she got something out of what i said.  A few nights ago, i again talked about philosophical things — you know how it’s in my blood — and suggested looking at everything as not just being separate, but together as one.  I held my hand, with fingers spread, in front of her, and said that each finger was different from the other fingers.  Mentioning that each finger can look and act differently, i wiggled my fingers in different ways.  Then i pointed out that though each finger is different, they are all connected (and not separate), and all are together as one hand.  I said that all of us are like the fingers — all being as one thing.  I said that it is good to go beyond thinking now and then, and to look at everything as if for the first time, without just seeing things as being separate.  As i turned away from her to prepare their food, Tweetie said, “You are right!”  (This was the first time she has ever said that… and we didn’t teach it to her.)  She wasn’t brown-nosing, either; she is brutally honest.  One day, recently, for instance,  i reprimanded one of the other parrots for screaming too loud, and later in the evening, Marla opened the door to the avian room to reprimand me for having their TV on too loud.  I was in their room preparing their food at the time, and said, “Marla, is like an old grouch today.”  Tweetie then said, “You are too!” 

A couple of days after her response to my philosophical talk, i went into their area as they were watching the Muppets on television.  As i was sitting there eating a salad and watching it with them, there was an episode where western ranch hands were riding on top of cows and saying how much they loved the wonderful horses they were riding.  I laughed out loud, and said, “They’re not on horses; they are riding on cows!”  Tweetie said, “You are right!”  She was correct about her judgement of this last (factual) occurrence; whether she was correct regarding what i said philosophically is debatable (though very interesting).  Perhaps intelligent animals are more appreciative of going beyond dead symbols — and of seeing the value of direct perception — than most of us humans.  Tweetie will not likely ever go through profound enlightenment; but, then, neither will the vast majority of humans.  Usually, when i take Tweetie out for her daily exercising, i ask her how she is doing.  Her usual reply is “Pretty good!”  I’ve noticed that on those days that I’ve talked to her about going beyond thinking… she, instead, says, “I don’t know!”  Perfect answer!  People might easily say that i am nuts for talking philosophically to bird brains.  However, i have received more intelligent responses from my avian friends, lately, than i have from local humans in our area.

  

Eye of perception. Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2016

Eye of perception. Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2016

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Tweetie Pie’s Christmas Wish

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So, I am cleaning cages, and getting their food ready.  Tweetie Pie (one of the parrots that lives with us) is standing on a perch right near to where I am.  (We don’t call them “pets,” as — I’m sure like a lot of you dog, cat, and bird caretakers know — we turn into more “their personal servants” than “pet owners.”)   I turn to Tweetie and ask, “What do you want from Santa for Christmas?”  “Do you want a new learning video, a new toy, extra peanuts, pizza cheese, or maybe a lot of carrots, or tasty grapes, or apples?”  “So, Tweetie, what do you want?”

The following is what Tweetie’s response was (which we did not teach her… and which she also had said around a week prior to this when I had asked her the very same question):

“Everything”

She learns things from watching others interact, not only by teaching her directly.  I have (with Tweetie nearby observing) said things to the other birds like, “Wow! Your bowl is empty; good job!  You ate everything!”  (Dr. Irene Pepperberg, who does extensive research with parrots, says many of them have the mental understanding of a 5 year old and the capacity to verbalize of a 2 year old.)

Afterwards, as I keep cleaning, I said,  “If you want all those things, you better be extra good, because, as you know, Santa sees everything, he is always watching everything you do at all times.”   As I said this, one of the other parrots enthusiastically said, “Yeah! Yeah!,”  and Tweetie Pie looked up scanning her eyes all around the ceiling (as if wondering how Santa could see everything at all times).

They really like Christmas oriented videos, like Polar Express, and I’ve been playing those a lot lately.

Happy Holidays!  🙂

Tweetie Pie (1) Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2015

Tweetie Pie (1) Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2015

Tweetie Pie (2) Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2015

Tweetie Pie (2) Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2015

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Animal – Parrot Intelligence…

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Before I retired, I used to (as a hobby) keep and breed macaws.  Now that I’m older and retired, I have 3 pet parrots… two that are macaws, and one that’s a Yellow Naped Amazon. 

Parrots make great pets but, because of their intelligence, you have to give them a lot of time and stimulation.  In many ways, they are a lot like dogs… except they can talk.  I exercise all of my birds daily… taking them out of their large cages and moving up and down with them many times (as I simultaneously exercise).  They have their own high definition TV in their room, where they like to watch things like The Muppets, Sesame Street, and Rock’n Learn (learning/phonics) videos.  

Their intelligence is phenomenal!  Makes me glad I’m a vegetarian… though I realize that certain birds, like chickens, don’t even come close to the intelligence of parrots.  There are many other intelligent animals, including pigs and dogs.  Tweety Pie, the bird pictured here, talks in complete sentences.  She creates and makes up her own sentences and has great comprehension.  Some birds just mimic; others have comprehension.  For example, when we put on our coats or jackets to go outside, Tweety would ask: “Are you going to go bye-bye now?”  … or “Can I go too?”  We never taught her those questions; she came up with them herself; she says them with the right intonation for a question.  She sings complete songs, like the “Oh what a beautiful morning” song  and other songs including one by the Backstreet Boys.  (I don’t even know the lyrics to that Backstreet Boys song, thank goodness.)  Once, when I was in the living room and couldn’t get the Playstation to work, she said, “What seems to be the problem?”  I said, “I can’t seem to get the TV to work right.”  She then said, “Can I help?”  Something else!  Last night I kept the birds up a bit late because I was cleaning aquariums in their room.  On two separate occasions I told the birds that they could “sleep in late”… (by me not turning on lights or opening window shades until later in the morning); after each of the two times that I told them that they could “sleep in late in the morning,” Tweety Pie” said “Thank You”!  The night before, I asked the birds about which video they’d like to watch; I said, “What do you want to watch… Children Singing, Sesame Street, or The Muppets?”  Tweety said, “Muppets.”  So The Muppets were put on.

I tried to do videos of Tweety, but she won’t talk in front of a camera (at all).  Once, when I worked (before retiring), I recorded her conversations on an audio recorder, took it to work for people to listen to, and people were totally amazed.  (I included a couple of YouTube videos here — of other people’s parrot friends — for people to see, so that they can observe just how intelligent these birds can be; the ones in the videos are not against being video recorded.)  Many of these birds don’t just mimic.  Some, especially, have great comprehension.  One of our macaws, Scarlet, talks and has great comprehension.  When I was younger, I took her to work with me (to my classroom for the multiply handicapped); she would sit on my lap in the car, as I was driving, and was perfect in behavior in the car and in the classroom.  Sometimes Scarlet calls for me by name, saying “Tom, come here,” and Marla, my wife, says that it sounds like I have another wife!  Just last night, I had been playing a learning-video for them about colors, shapes, and counting, and as they (on the video) demonstrated counting to ten; Scarlet then, after they got up to ten, said “eleven.”  

(See the videos below.  The one of the African Grey Parrot, named Einstein, is one of many; to see other of her – she’s a female – videos, do a YouTube search on “Einstein Texan Talking Parrot”; there are other videos of another bird, that’s a show bird, named Einstein… but I like Einstein from Texas best.)

Tweety Pie. Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2015

Tweety Pie. Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2015