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Parrots imitate individuals when addressing them

Date:
November 21, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Whether living with pirates or in the wild, parrots have exceptional abilities to mimic the sounds they hear. One species, the orange-fronted conure, may have evolved this ability in order to communicate with specific individuals in other flocks, according to new research.
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Orange-fronted conures mimic the calls of individuals they want to communicate with.
Credit: Thorsten Balsby; Balsby TJS, Momberg JV, Dabelsteen T (2012) Vocal Imitation in Parrots Allows Addressing of Specific Individuals in a Dynamic Communication Network. PLoS ONE 7(11): e49747. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049747

Whether living with pirates or in the wild, parrots have exceptional abilities to mimic the sounds they hear. One species, the orange-fronted conure, may have evolved this ability in order to communicate with specific individuals in other flocks, according to research published November 21 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Thorsten Balsby from the University of Aarhus, Denmark and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen.

In the wild, orange-fronted conures live in dynamic flocks where individuals flit in and out, so each parrot encounters many different individuals every day. Each animal also has its own unique call. Both in the wild and in the researcher's experiments, parrots that heard an imitation of their own calls responded more frequently and faster to the calling individual than parrots that did not hear this imitation. Based on these observations, the authors suggest that the parrots may have evolved their abilities as mimics so they could 'begin a conversation' with a specific individual by mimicking their call.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thorsten J. S. Balsby, Jane Vestergaard Momberg, Torben Dabelsteen. Vocal Imitation in Parrots Allows Addressing of Specific Individuals in a Dynamic Communication Network. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (11): e49747 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049747

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Public Library of Science. "Parrots imitate individuals when addressing them." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121210259.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, November 21). Parrots imitate individuals when addressing them. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121210259.htm
Public Library of Science. "Parrots imitate individuals when addressing them." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121210259.htm (accessed May 23, 2015).

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