Birdy Genius: The African Grey Parrot


Remember when people said that parrots just mimic sounds, and have no actual comprehension? Once I’d had a parrot of my own, I KNEW this was SO untrue! And I knew that “bird-brain” was actually a compliment!

Then I saw the results that Dr. Irene Pepperberg was getting from her lab at the University of Arizona. She acquired her most famous Grey, “Alex” from a pet shop when she was finishing her doctorate at Harvard.

Alex was capable of identifying objects by their type, their texture and their color, and learned how to label objects that were new to him. And that put him in the same class as primates, who had previously been the “gold standard” of animal intelligence.

Birds have brains that are structured differently than mammals, and so scientists for a very long time believed that they were not smart, and that they acted from instinct alone…

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