Pet Parrots Love Video Calling Other Birds, Study Finds

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

Parrots are social animals, and if kept alone as pets, they could become lonely and bored. But how to make sure they have company when you can’t afford or care for another bird? Well, it seems that scientists have found the answer.

In a new study, scientists have found that pet parrots may benefit from virtually connecting with their feathery friends through video calls. Domesticated parrots that were trained to initiate video chats with other pet parrots had a wealth of positive experiences, and thrived learning new skills, according to the study published in “ Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems”.

The experiment involved volunteers from Parrot Kindergarten, an online training program for parrot owners and their pets. In the initial stages, the owners taught their birds to ring a bell and touch an image of another pet parrot on a tablet screen, in order to initiate a video call. Believe it or not, the participating parrots made a total of 212 video calls during this first phase, and owners carefully monitored their behavior all the while, terminating calls as soon as the birds stopped paying attention to the screen. The average duration of these calls was five minutes!  

After successfully teaching the birds how to start video interactions, the experiment entered its second phase, called the "open call" period. During this time, the 15 parrots involved in the study were able to make video calls at their own discretion and choose which parrot friend to contact. During the following two months, they deliberately made 147 video calls to other birds. The researchers observed that the parrots made use of the opportunity to contact each other and tended to stay on the calls for the maximum allowed duration during the experiment.

According to the study, the parrots demonstrated an understanding that the birds they saw on the other side of the screen were live birds, not recordings. During the video interactions, some of the parrots even learned new skills by observing and imitating their virtual companions. The researchers also observed that the birds developed close relationships with each other, as evidenced by their frequency of calling the same individual. The parrots who made the most video calls also received the most calls, indicating a reciprocal dynamic similar to how humans socialize, as noted by the study.

The experiment showcased that parrots are highly intelligent birds and that there is still a lot to learn about them, and their behavior. But it also tells us that they are highly social animals, and require the company of their feathery friends in order to truly thrive – which is certainly something to consider if you are an owner of a single bird.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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