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danmcq

Grey Cognition and language abilities

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These Greys continue to amaze me... Now that I have picked myself up off the floor....

 

Dayo just made a new and clear indication of the thinking, cognitive and creative abilities our Parrots have. He knows the phrase, "Lets make a Sandwich" for lunch. He uses this almost every noon time.

 

To show how much mental activity goes on in these amazing walnut sized brains. Asking for a sandwich and not knowing what I might to decide to make. He just changed MY behavior, when he came out with a never heard phrase before, namely "Peanut Butter Bread"! I almost fell over!!!

 

He accurately linked the words Peanut Butter and Bread together to state what TYPE of sandwich he desired! I believe he is truly starting to understand the mechanics of the human English language and is using it for his gain.

 

Guess what kind of sandwich I just made? :confused:

 

A P&B of course! I want to ensure his correct communication was received, understood and responded to by my actions.

 

Always listen to your birds, even if you think they may just be babbling. At times they are stating something and waiting to see of they get a response. If not, they may just stop trying.

Edited by danmcq

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how long have you had your bird that was wild caught?

 

Someone asked a little bit ago about older birds learning human speach. Yes, I think they can. My TAG Phenix was a rescue, probably wild caught & guessing 10-15 yo when I got him. When he finally started to talk, he spoke in my voice & everything was related to his surroundings at our house. I think he learned everything after he came to live here.

 

For the first 6 months he growled & screamed his misery while I talked & sang to him. Otherwise, he was utterly silent. Eventually, that changed to where he would quietly mumble to himself in a corner. He didn't want to draw attention to himself because I'd listen & he knew it. They're so hyper-aware of everything! The first thing he ever said to me was "What.!?" when he had had enough & wanted to be left alone. I thought it was coincidence until he said the same thing to the vet as he was observing him. That time, the attitude was unmistakable. :mad:

 

From the beginning, he has proven to me that he often knows just what he's saying...

 

"Good night" bed time prep. Also doubles for good bye when he knows I'm leaving the house

 

"No. Stoppit... Baaaddd!" He want's the dogs to stop rough-housing near his cage

 

"Sorry!!" He just bit someone

 

"U OK...?" Something loud & surprising happened or maybe he just bit someone & isn't the least sorry

 

"U OK...?" (then laughing) Something loud & surprising happened to someone he doesn't like

 

laughing in all the right & wrong places. Sometime he has a really nasty sense of humor!

sound of running water it's time to change the water dish

sound of swallowing You should be sharing something you're drinking

sound of crunching You should be sharing something you're eating

Windows sign-off sound You should get off the damned computer!

 

After 20 yrs, I honestly take communicating with him for granted. Yesterday, Phenix didn't want me to clean his cage. At some point, he slipped up behind me & very threateningly said, "Move!"

 

I automatically said, "Move, PLEASE." & moved on to clean a different part of the cage before I got bitten.

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What a great story about Phenix! Quite an expressive personality! I hope me grey doesn't learn the Window's sign-off sound, as I could be in big trouble <g>

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Sometimes I hear a loud or unexpected noise, and I guess I say, "What was that?" Lately though Brutus drops toys or bangs things together and HE says, "What was that?" I think he figured out it requires a noise first before the question. neat.

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Chezron - Yep, your right and Brutus has started using that phrase correctly!! :)

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Some stories I've picked up in the veterinary world......

 

Vet restrains parrot who starts shouting 'Help! Help! Help!'

 

After being injected, as the vet turned away to dispose of the needle, parrot muttered under his breath 'Bastard.'

 

And another, having been hospitalised for a week, started saying 'Well, I don't know what's wrong with it..'

 

Owner playing with parrot, and passes him some keys to play with. After a while, the bird accidentally drops the keys on the floor. Looks at the keys. Looks at the owner. Then says 'Oh, Shit.'

 

My Pippa's best one was when she flew into a window and said 'Cor, f***ing hell!' She has never repeated it, and only used it when the situation warranted.

 

I'm suprised by how many people I know think their talking is purely mimicry. Obviously, that's the starting point. But Irene Pepperberg's work, and so, so many anecdotes show there is more going on. There is definately the contextualising of words, saying them at the appropriate time. You could argue that much of the time the word is just being triggered by an environmental cue, rather than their being an actual understanding of what is being said. But Irene's work clearly demonstrates that the capacity is there, and why evolve the capacity if you would never use it in the wild? That's an expensive bit of brain power to waste energy on if you don't need it to survive...

 

Isn't this the same way human children develop language though - mimicry, then context, then cognition and combining words to express your meaning. Sorry I can't remember who posted it (might be danmcq) but there are some lovely posts on here about our response to their words and how to encourage this development of language. Words gain meaning and significance because we help GIVE them meaning and significance, either by a verbal response, or by altering something in the environment.

 

If we ignored the jabberings of a human child, I wonder how much it would slow down the development of their language and cognitive abilities.

 

Tweeds (loving having somewhere to talk about this stuff!)

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Tweeds - Excellent post and summary of examples happening in real-time with the Parrots using appropriate learned cognitive responses to actions or items. Your right, if you do not respond acknowlegding they got it right, it will slow down the process immensley.

 

I have no doubt, they know what their saying and why:

 

Dayo

 

Slips or timbles- Says whoops!

Drops something he was really wanting to keep playing with, says "Shoot, God Dangit!"

When I'm on the computer and ignored him too long, says "Shoot, God Dangit!"..."Your on the Computer".

When thirsty states "Wanna Drink of Water"

Wants a snack "Lets get some apples and grapes"

Wants to go outside, "Wanna go outside, see the birdies"

 

You get the drift. He has over 300 plus words and phrases he uses. This is not mimicry by any means, it is truly intelligent use of the human language they have learned to use as the communication tool to get what they want and enrich their lives by doing so.

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Wonderful post.. Now that Chikki has started with his first few words, I would like to talk about him and feel proud as well :).. Chikki now says Chikki, Chikki Boy, Chikki Pakki(Pakki is a tamil word for someone who eats a lot of junk, a lot of!!).. and more importantly he says Hello.. though he says Hello in a slightly different voice, that doesnt sound as exciting as the other bits, he does it at the right context.. especially when I am on my phone.. he even says it along with my ringtone, which is awesome.. cant wait to hear him say more contextual phrases/words!!

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Tweedle,

 

Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the vet's world of the Grey. Fascinating!

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This one is probably obvious, and as a group we need no further proof of cognition rather than just mimicry....

 

I really feel that I haven't been talking with Pippa enough, and as a result her vocabulary is mostly extraordinary sounds rather than words. It would be wonderful if she was able to express herself in a way that was a bit more obvious for her stooopid hoooman to understand, so I need to pay more attention and give words more meaning for her. The last few days, I've frequently been asking 'What are you doing?' (I figured that once she starts asking that, I won't be able to resist answering and giving her a commentary). Sure enough, this morning, a voice came from downstairs calling 'What are you doing?' (I'm still in bed! will be down in a bit).

 

But it wasn't in my voice. It was in the voice of an elderly man with a VERY strong Plymouthian accent! If it was purely mimicry, wouldn't she be attempting MY voice? Doesn't this mean she can recognise that they are the same words, despite sounding vastly different? Whether she understands the meaning of them (yet), we shall have to wait and see.

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I just uploaded another Tobie video. This bird amazes me every day. I used to try to get him to pick out colors and he started avoiding the game. I quit for quite a while - almost a year - and then decided to try again a month ago or so. He seemed to get it during the lay off. All of a sudden he knew all the colors. I was watching watching the video and wondered if he missed the color on purpose that one time. He only had two to choose from and chose the wrong one. Here it is.

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That was awesome Jan!

 

Tobie was 100 percent correct in this test. Now that is proven cognition in my book. :)

 

Thanks for sharing this.

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Pickles is my 8 year old CAG and we stopped counting the words in his vocabulary a long time ago, at over 150. He talks in entire sentences often, such as "Step up and go get some supper", "Doncha wanna go for a walk to the aviary?" etc.

 

He will often speak just to hear himself talk but he knows what he wants, can ask for it with his words and constantly amazes us with his cognative abilities. I think a good example would be 'scary'. He never uses this word except when he's been startled, scared or we present him with a new toy that he doesn't like right away.

 

He never says "Good morning" except in the mornings. He never says "Lights off" unless he wants to go to bed. Things like that.

 

A really cute one is "There's a bug!" He says this if one flies past him, or if he sees an ant or spider crawling on the floor but one day, while looking out the window, a hummingbird hovered in front of him. "There's a bug!" he hollered. I told him it was a hummingBIRD and he said "Baby butt?" He calls all small birds baby butts.

 

He'll say "Want some music?" but if you play music he doesn't like, he'll give you the buzzer and say "Want some GOOD music!"

 

He says "pudding" but he will also say that for jello. In his mind, anything served up on a spoon is pudding. However, if you hand him mashed potato on a spoon, he says "mmmm, potato".

 

On nice days, we sometimes make drinks and take Pickles outside to the aviary while we sit next to the trout pond. The minute we put ice in our glasses, Pickles perks up with "Juice?" (we don't correct him because otherwise he'll be blabbing to everyone about our drinking!) "Wanna step up and go party in the aviary? Want music!"

 

We spend a LOT of time with Pickles - we use to take him to work with us every day when we owned our business, and we interact with him constantly. He has play stands in every room and he only goes in his cage to eat or when he decides it's time to go to bed. He is not clipped but prefers not to fly unless startled - and he flies well. Anyone who spends as much time with their bird as we do, knows African Greys aren't just mimicking. We don't 'teach' him words, he learns from normal conversation - either between us and him, or my husband and myself. Sometimes he picks up words that i have no idea where they came from. He doesn't mumble while trying to learn new words, he just spits them out suddenly.

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Georgi, Pickles sounds just delightful, I can't wait to hear about Pickles. What a total smarty pants.

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That's so wonderful, good Parront's good Grey!!!1

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People are always asking me how much time it takes to "teach Tobie to say something". Thats not it as all. Georgi said it well. They learn it all on their own. I never know what new thing Tobie might come up with. Aren't they amazing.

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;););)Well Houdini is finally comming around.... I had been playing with my grandbaby that is 11 months old and we were playing with her see and say...We were doing the duck and the duck goes quack quack quack...well guess what ....he started quacking what a hoot. for months I thought he was only gonna whistle because I did work with him every day since I have been home. I wasnt even trying just playing and he picked it up like he had been talking for years. and he is doing the rooster now too....lol and says hello and I love you and thats it so far.;);););)

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My Miss Hannah Sits in her cage and practices making noises , she is 8 months old. But she is picking up a lot of things my 6 year old cockitiel is teaching her while im at work, Im afraid i will come home and hear her say , Petes a pretty bird ,or come here pete.

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Welcome Rick! Why don't your introduce yourself in the welcome room when you get a chance.

 

Most Greys do not start talking until around a year or a little more old. My Grey said his first word at around a year old... "HELLO". I guess announcing to all, the speech neurons were now online as a test message. After that they just start practicing and using what they fins useful or just fun to say. You'll hear faint mumbling as they calibrate and most times when you are not in the room or are not looking at them.

 

It's GreYt having you here and I hope to hear more. :)

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I haven't posted here in a while of what I am trying to learn with and from Dayo on his cognitive abilities of how he and I assume other Avian friends prefer to communicate.

 

I have been working from home now going on my third week. I have now had the luxury of thinking about how to increase Dayo's understanding of human communication and also my understanding of how he wishes to communicate his response either verbally or through body language.

 

My questions are direct and require only a yes or no response. One thing I realized very rapidly, was my failure to teach Dayo what "Yes" is and it is not in his vocabulary. Now I am using yes as well as no, which he knows through negative actions he may do and I have always said NO. Funny thinking about how we humans use NO much more often than yes when interacting even with our children as they grow up, reflecting back now to my childrens early years.

 

At any rate, my first endeavor at getting this going, is simply asking him if he wishes to step-up or fly. Of course this is always when I have already prefaced the question with where I am going such as the "Living Room" to "Watch TV" or "Watch a Movie", to the "Family Room", to "Take a Shower", to "See Outside" etc.

 

My first observations are that he with out a doubt understands I am "Asking" him "IF" he wishes to go and also what his preferred mode of transportation getting there is, namely step-up and travel on me or fly and land on my shoulder as I depart on my way to the location described. Of course sometimes if he doesn't step-up, he may opt to fly in the room I have gone to a minute or two later.

 

Right now he never uses a verbal response. He will do one of three things to show through body language which he prefers.

 

1. He will lift a foot HIGH meaning he wished to step-up.

 

2. He will lift his foot perhaps an inch and if I then take the fake out and place my hand or arm for him to step-up, he will quickly throw himself forward and down giving me a hard pinch as he gleefully exclaims "WOOOOooooooooo" then prides himself on the fake out. I no longer fall for this one......

 

3. He will not lift his foot at all.

 

4. If he does not lift his foot or only lifts it an inch, I say "Ok" "Fly" and turn around and walk away. Once I am about 8 to 10 feet away from him I hear his wings flapping and he is on my shoulder in a heartbeat.

 

5. If I turn and walk away and he remains, then that tells me he wanted neither mode of transportation and just wants to stay where he is and preen, play or whatever it is that may be going on in his mind at the time.

 

I do hope through using the words Yes and No properly as I do this, that he will understand it is a human way of asking for either a yes or no response to a question. Considering the word no has been used for three years as a means to communicate what he was doing was not a preferred behavior, I think this is going to be more complicated than I first thought. Only time will tell this.

 

Does anyone here use a yes/no question and successfully receive a verbal yes/no response? If so, how did you accomplish this? Perhaps you started from the beginning using both words?

Edited by danmcq

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Interesting observation Dan. I guess I never use the yes term with my fids and the no seldom. I say things like, Want some apple, and if Ana Grey wants some she repeats the phrase or follows me to go get the apple/nut. Or I say, Stop that, and if she has done something bad, she will repeat the phrase.

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We do use "No" a lot don't we? My husband says the birds probably think their names are No Moussa, No Gwyneth, No Tazo, etc. :)

 

Moussa is 7 months and not talking yet. I am getting pretty good at reading his body language. There are signals he gives that mean "yes" to me. When I ask him if he wants a scratch, if he fluffs up the feathers around his head and neck, that means "yes." He also does the foot lift to agree to "Wanna come?" He sometimes lets me know where he wants to go by looking and leaning. I think we're beginning to establish a basis of communication and hopefully speech will build on that.

 

Dan, I'll be interested in how the "yes" experiment goes.

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