Most pet owners talk to their animals at one time or another, and some do every day. But how much do our pets actually understand? Is their perception anything like ours? These are the questions that fascinate Irene Pepperberg and she’s looking for answers from the animals themselves, specifically — African Grey Parrots. The Harvard University psychology professor is a bit like the character Dr. Doolittle because she’s been talking to parrots for decades. With help from the National Science Foundation, she’s researching how much the birds understand about shapes, numbers and colors. Her next phase of research involves how the parrots detect optical illusions, and whether they perceive them the way humans do. Her research will also reveal more about how a bird’s vision works.

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    23 replies to "Talk to the Animals – Science Nation"

    • Parrot Chop

      Everyones acting like vets and it's annoying me, yes greys are prone to plucking but it can be for many reasons, health issues, anxiety, stress, lack of vitamin D, lack of vitamins and minerals, habit, could be ANYTHING so stop assuming ya'll know it all, all your seeing is a 2:32 minute video so you don't really know what their whole day everyday is like. YOU ARE NOT VETS.
      There's not proper scientific research for you all to be making these assumptions.

    • El cat

      Look at the way they're eyes get with intensity. Lmfao to have to use that kind of focus every 2 seconds. Maannn. Hell yeah they are stressed wtf

    • KEV STEWART

      Big Question that everyone is asking ,WHY are the Birds Plucking ,Not a good sign,could be a fungal infection ,but most of the birds are plucking ,Not enough Fun and actual individual interaction and stimulation with the greys ,the learning process should be fun and the interaction process should be such that the parrot enjoys what it is doing and it will show it is enjoying it ,Its a lab and its a controlled environment ,more care needed when dealing with Greys.

    • Lisa Love

      Poor bird will join Alex soon.

    • Lisa Love

      I've watched Alex who passed away at I believe age 30? He was a sad bird who constantly would say ,( I'm sorry go back) he got tired of the constant testing and would beg to go back to his cage. He was smart yes but wasn't treated as a beloved pet he was a test subject and by the way she talks one can tell she doesn't shown these bird's LOVE! If this is about teaching children who have mental issues then why not teach children? Why fill these bird's lives with this constant testing? To me it's cruel I'm not saying she abuses them but Alex looked the same way unhealthy. African greys are beautiful all her bird's looked sick and plucked! Those who say ohh these are rescued bird's this bird she's owned since he was a baby so all the plucking is done from stressful day's not be able to be a BIRD and happy! A little love goes a long way!! Alex died young he got sick most likely because he had no affection shown to him and was bored with the word ((WHAT MANNER))!!

    • sheepu

      oweeh they still have Alex' bird cage in there… 😢

    • Dam! Emi

      I understand that She wants to show that these birds have a kind of intelligence and She does a hard job, but what about them. Animals were not created to be testing and live far away from their habitats. Maybe Alex died so early because he was trained everyday for almost 30 years. Well I think that it shorted his life. 😢

    • Mira Mondal

      If you say that the bird is sad … Or that when does a corner become a shape then read this : birds grow new feathers and shed the feathers after a certain period and secondly , a bird has limited vocabulary sense and receives a single term from a general category which is really large. And you all are too much judgemental and that also to soon . ….. Hope to see you never!

    • Danielle

      Interesting that her first bird alex who was also very intelligent… also had the same problem as Griffin eventually develops, an apparent fungal infection. Its pretty amazing and she seems to treat them quite well, but it is obvious that the testing/learning must have an negative effect on them 😔

    • Wade Haden

      Careful not to contaminate the situation? what a joke. was she careful enough not to send pictures? If you want to communicate with your animals, best to hold a picture in your mind and not be so concerned with words! Animal communication is awesome. But she needs to explore the communication with pictures.

    • Jules Mpc

      No wonder he died soooo early, out of stress…check his feather problems.

    • Dana B

      why did he pluck his feathers??????   Was he stressed?    It doesn't seem like she lets him do what he wants.  Instead, she forces him to answer questions.  And, none of the videos I am seeing are fun.  She is not fun with him.    YOu can teach a parrot while having fun and allowing them the control to do what they want.    I cant even get into her book because its written more about her experience than observation and description of him.   sadly.

    • Rachel Osran

      for those of you making assumptions about the conditions of these parrots:
      there are 3 in the lab, they are social with each other and get lots of attention from several grad students and the lab manager etc.
      they are given all the fruits and veggies they could want, they request specific treats and receive them as rewards, they hang out outside of their cages for 8-12 hours a day and don't just do tasks the entire time. they can end the trials whenever they want, in fact Alex used to purposefully give every answer but the right one just to mess with the people administering the tasks because he didn't feel like answering, or didn't want to work that day. like any test subject they are given plenty of opportunity to back out of their tests.
      if you guys googled this stuff or watched other videos and read about the Pepperberg lab and the history of the avian learning experiments, you will find sources for all of this. they're very happy birds and are waited on by practically human servants basically all day every day, and the work they're doing is astonishing. I hope Dr. Pepperberg continues her work!

    • Sven. W

      In Deutschland würde man uns nicht bewundern für so Federlose Papageien. Und hier gibt es noch Applaus.

    • 5alidal

      Woman: "What shape?"
      Bird: "Corner"
      Woman: "Goooood bird. You are a genius!"
      Me: "Am I missing something? Since when was corner a SHAPE?!?"

    • Khalil Amiri

      I would like to buy an African grey. Would it be ok if I spend 3 hours a day with him 7 days a week. I have 2 year experience with macaw and I currently own a sun conure. One more question will the African grey be ok with my sun conure?

    • sinkiy

      I know why the caged bird sings.

    • Greg Power

      Looks like all of the parrots in the video have been plucking their feathers. Not a good sign..

    • Ahmad Hijazi

      I am sorry DR Irene Pepperberg that you have been through a lot of trouble training your 3 african grey parrots.

    • Ahmad Hijazi

      Griffin is really smart, but Alex is a little bit over rated because Griffin is smarter but Alex has a wider vocabulary. I named my African congo grey parrot alex because of Alex was really intelligent.

    • Katie Kaliber

      Those birds look so sad 🙁

    • TheJamexicana

      I've watched a lot of Pepperberg's videos, and it seems like almost all of her birds are self-plucking, which is a sign of depression. If these African Greys have the cognition (including emotional cognition) of a 5-year old, a metal cage will be emotionally detrimental to an animal who is meant to live in a 400-acre area. Something just doesn't seem right here

    • Endezeichen Grimm

      Planet of the Parrots?

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