Speaking of Names: Karl Berg’s Observations of Wild Parrots

© TJ Lin with CCLicense

© TJ Lin with CCLicense

Parrots are famous for their uncanny ability to learn, memorize, and mimic sound. What you might not know is that wild parrots do not use this ability in quite the same way our pets do. For them it is a matter of survival. If a parrot chick does not learn the “names” or calls of its parents it will not live long.  Also, a young parrot must devise a name for itself and learn those of its siblings.

Karl Berg, a biologist at Cornell University, wondered how parrots do this. Is a parrot’s name passed down through genetic code or learned from its parents? In order to learn the answer, Berg switched the eggs from two nests and set up nesting cameras to observe the parrot families as the chicks hatched, grew and finally left the nest. This video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology summarizes what he found.

Video via LabofOrnithology on YouTube.