Lonely parrots learn to video chat

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Recent studies have demonstrated that lonely pet parrots can significantly benefit from video chatting with other parrots. Researchers from Northeastern University, the University of Glasgow, and MIT conducted a study where they taught domesticated parrots to use video calling technology to interact with each other. This initiative was driven by the understanding that parrots are highly social creatures that often suffer from isolation when kept as pets.

Key Findings from the Study

  • Social Interaction: Parrots engaged in various social behaviors during video calls, such as mirroring movements, dancing, singing, and even showing toys to each other. These interactions mimic those that occur in natural flock environments.
  • Learning and Development: The parrots not only maintained social interactions but also learned new skills from each other, such as foraging techniques and new sounds. This aspect of the study highlights the cognitive benefits of social interaction among parrots.
  • Emotional Well-being: Owners and researchers observed that the parrots appeared more lively and less isolated as a result of these video interactions. Some parrots continued to seek out these interactions, indicating a lasting positive impact on their well-being.
  • Safety and Health Considerations: Given that a high percentage of pet parrots can carry transmissible diseases, video calls provide a safe way to interact without the risk of disease transmission. This is particularly important as physical interactions could potentially spread diseases like avian ganglioneuritis.

Implementation and Precautions

The study involved a careful setup where parrots were trained to initiate calls by ringing a bell and then selecting a fellow parrot's image on a tablet. This method ensured that the parrots had the agency to choose when and whom to call. The calls were monitored by the owners to prevent any signs of distress or aggression, and calls were limited to short durations to maintain the birds' attention.

Broader Implications

This research not only sheds light on the social needs of parrots but also opens up discussions about the welfare of other socially complex animals. It suggests that technology can play a role in enhancing the lives of pets, especially those that require high levels of social interaction. The study's findings could potentially be applied to other animals that are kept in isolation, thereby improving their quality of life through technological interventions. In conclusion, the ability of parrots to use video calling technology effectively addresses their social needs, reduces feelings of loneliness, and enhances their overall well-being. This innovative approach could serve as a model for improving the lives of other captive animals facing similar challenges.
how did the scientists teach the parrots to video call each other
what other benefits do parrots get from video chatting with other parrots
are there any other animals that have been taught to video call each other