Scientists teach parrots to video call each other

Many parrot species live in flocks in the wild. However, pet parrots usually live alone or in a small group. Due to this loneliness and boredom, problematic behaviors such as rocking, walking back and forth or feather plucking can be seen in birds.

Stating that many people got rid of the feeling of loneliness with video calls in the COVID-19 pandemic, the research team wanted to see if a similar solution could be developed for parrots.

Experts from Scotland and the US agreed with participants in the Parrot Kindergarten training program, which focuses on parrots and their owners. Thus, with the help of their owners, 18 pet parrots were taught how to ring a bell and then how to call and answer incoming calls by tapping a photo of another bird on the screen of a tablet.

Video calling is good for birds

During the study, the birds dropped a total of 147 calls. Scientists analyzed over a thousand hours of footage, while owners took notes on their animals’ behavior. The findings showed that video calling could be good for birds.

It has been found that parrots prefer parrots that seek other birds the most.

From the research team, Dr. Jennifer Cunha stated that all participants want to continue using the system with their parrots in the future.

One of the authors of the research published in the Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas said:

“I was quite surprised by the range of different behaviors. Some sang, some played around. Some wanted to show their toys to another bird.”

Some birds sleep next to images of each other, Hirskyj-Douglas said.

The international research team announced that they will continue studies focusing on the physical and mental needs of animals.

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