A new study suggests that pet parrots can enjoy themselves with other parrots through video chats, similar to how humans use video chats to connect with friends and family who live far away. The study was conducted by researchers from Northeastern University, the University of Glasgow, and MIT. The researchers discovered that pet parrots who were taught to start video calls with other parrots had good experiences and even learned new things.
In the wild, parrots live in large flocks, but as pets in captivity, they are often alone and may develop psychological issues like feeling bored and isolated, and even resorting to self-harming behaviors like plucking out their feathers.
Scientists wanted to help pet parrots feel less lonely, so they asked people to teach their birds how to use a tablet to make video calls with other parrots. They found volunteers from an online training program called Parrot Kindergarten.
During the first two weeks, the pet parrots made 212 video calls to other birds while their owners watched them closely. In the next part of the experiment, the parrots could make video calls on their own and choose which bird to talk to.
Over the next two months, pet parrots made 147 video calls to other birds, and researchers studied more than 1,000 hours of video footage that owners had recorded. The scientists carefully wrote down what they saw to learn more about how the parrots were feeling.
Scientists discovered that pet parrots really enjoyed making video calls to other parrots. During the experiment, the parrots usually stayed on the call for the longest time allowed. They also understood that the bird on the other side of the screen was real, not just a recording.
The parrots even learned new skills from their virtual friends, like flying and foraging. They also made new sounds and formed strong friendships, which researchers measured by how often they called the same parrot.
While video chatting can’t replace real-life interactions in the wild, it can still be a good way to help parrots feel less lonely in captivity. It can also keep them safe from diseases that can be dangerous for humans.
But, it’s important to remember that not all parrots will like video chatting and it’s best to have an experienced handler help them. Overall, the study shows that pet parrots can use technology to connect with each other in special and unique ways.