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danmcq

Grey Cognition and language abilities

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At age 10 months, Lulu's speech is becoming much clearer. She has begun two behaviors related to language/cognition that I find interesting.

 

The first is that she very clearly and persistently will say "Step Up" when she wants to be picked up. She will say these words randomly at times, but also very purposefully and obviously related to her desires.

 

The second was fascinating to me and my wife. We walk Lulu in the Pak-o-bird with Golly, our German Shepherd most mornings. The other morning, I felt a bit lazy/sore and my wife asked me if I was going along with her (I carry Lulu) When I replied "No", Lulu gave a loud scream and immediately went into a begging posture. My wife and I started laughing, and I told Lu not to worry, we were all going, and the begging posture immediately relaxed, with Lu all ready to step up to go into her carrier for her walk. It seemed like she directly understood the situation, and comprehended the implications of my word "no".

 

Not only the dog, but the bird nagging us for walks. Probably good for our health ;-)

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Hmm....got me thinking....

 

One of the problems might be the definition not being entirely consistant. When they hear 'No' from us, it might mean the end of chewing, the end of contact, going back in the cage, lots of different things rather than one firm definition. And then the word might be associated with a less than pleasant consequence for the bird, their being denied what they were wanting to do, rather than an expression of their desire.

 

I'm not sure how we can give the word the appropriate meaning from the bird's point of view until they actually utter it and we respond with the appropriate consequence.

 

Maybe this is an example of how the 'modelling' approach might be useful. 'Wanna nut?' followed by 'Yes!' gets someone the nut, hey, I should give that a try...

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Hmm....got me thinking....

 

One of the problems might be the definition not being entirely consistant. When they hear 'No' from us, it might mean the end of chewing, the end of contact, going back in the cage, lots of different things rather than one firm definition. And then the word might be associated with a less than pleasant consequence for the bird, their being denied what they were wanting to do, rather than an expression of their desire.

 

I'm not sure how we can give the word the appropriate meaning from the bird's point of view until they actually utter it and we respond with the appropriate consequence.

 

Maybe this is an example of how the 'modelling' approach might be useful. 'Wanna nut?' followed by 'Yes!' gets someone the nut, hey, I should give that a try...

 

Those are my thoughts as well in regards the word "No". It has so many subtle meanings, even the tonal inflictions we place on it like NO! NOOOooooo, no etc. I know Dayo has mastered those as he uses them for example if Jake the conure starts to get something Dayo wants he will say "NOOOooooooo!", if he is telling the dogs "It's Ok" when they bark, if the continue he will say "Bentley, NO!

 

Whats interesting to me in studying this, are the numerous forms of "No" we humans use versus the simple "Yes".

 

I think I will try the modeling approach using my wife, which I know Dayo hears us use "Yes" when we are just conversing, but we are not intentionally ensuring he is engaged as well. Thanks for that thought! :)

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DrTak - That is a perfect example of the obvious cognitive abilities these Greys and other Parrots have. :)

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Moussa really shocked me today with his apparent understanding of something I said. He was hanging out in the kitchen with me, as he often does, sitting in front of the stereo (I think he likes the music). I was sitting at the table working on something and casually looked up and said, "Moussa, wanna split a nut butter sandwich?" He immediately fluttered over to the table and climbed up my arm to sit on my shoulder expectantly, where he did when we shared a nut butter sandwich once before. Now this is not a common behavior for him to come to me when I casually talk to him like that. And he's hardly ever willing to sit still on my shoulder when I'm sitting in the kitchen like that. And I had not made any move to get anything out or start fixing the sandwich; I was just sitting quietly at the table. When I got up and took the jar of almond butter out of the fridge, he squealed excitedly, like he totally knew what I was about to do.

 

I only shared a sandwich like that with him once before! And I don't even know if I used those words before. But he seemed to understand what I said and all the implications of it! (Or else, he just plain read my mind, which is also possible) :)

 

This little guy just continues to amaze me.

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You all will want to know about Arielle, a macaw with more than FOUR THOUSAND words and phrases. You can read about her in Michael Dalton's book Another Kind of Mind and about other talking birds, mostly greys, at parrotspeech@yahoogroups.com . Paco is a 15 yo rescue I've had nearly 3 yrs. He has jokes that he made up, sometimes will practice new words or new intonations, and understands most of what I say, like

I already put it in your bowl. Go look.

which he did immediatrly tonight, first time i ever said anything like that.

Aloha

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One of the funniest things I saw: We had acquired the dog who was VERY interested in Tumnus. Anytime the bird would flap and make a raucous the dog would charge the cage and bark. We would get on the dog and say NO! in a sharp voice which would get the dog to quit. One time the dog was just curious about Tumnus and calmly walked up to the cage and sat down and watched him. Tumnus looked down at the dog and said in a rather low voice - No. Made my day!!

Edited by djohnson
fixed a typo

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One of my dogs is particularly "yappy." I have had to call in a dog trainer, and now I say "no bark" to Frankie whenever he starts up his barking. Well, as you might guess, Morgan, my CAG, now helps me with this. If Frankie starts barking, Morgan is quick to say, "No bark!!" It's soooooooooooo cute!!

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My CAG is 4 years old. I've only had her for two weeks. When I got Kaleah I was told she didn't talk at all, but to my surprise she does! Not a lot mind you, just simple "hello" and the occasional "pretty bird", but she always uses "hello" appropriately. When I come home she will let out a delighted whistle and say hello. When the phone rings she says hello again, but with an inflection in her voice that sounds like it's a question, and she only says it if I pick up the phone. If the phone is not answered and the caller hangs up before the answering machine picks up, Kaleah will still copy its beep because she knows that a second after the phone stops ringing the answering machine will kick in and eventually make the same beep.

 

For a 4 year old that has only been in her new home a few weeks she is doing extremely well. I have no doubts about her intellect, I can look into her eyes and know she has as many thoughts, plans, ideas, and questions going through her mind as I do. And I feel, in time, that she will be able to verbally communicate those with me, even if only on a basic level.

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Don and DW- LOL at the "No Bark!".

 

Kaleah - Thats wonderful, great progress in making her feel so comfortable! Your right, their intellect and cognitive abilities are amazing. Just like having a young 3 to 5 year old human child running around jabbering away. :)

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Gosh, Lulu has a dozen words and phrases at age 1. She uses the dog's name, Hey, No, all in context.

 

I've seen 25 year old greys with prodigious vocabs, as well.

 

But, as a (deleted because it bothered people that I mentioned my profession) and father of three grown children, I must confess I think you are delusional if you think a parrot talking is like having a five year old running around jabbering.

 

Parrots are bright, they have amazing cognition and language. But if your CAG sounds like your 5 year old, I'd really worry you had an autistic kid.

Edited by DrTak

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Parrots are bright, they have amazing cognition and language. But if your CAG sounds like your 5 year old, I'd really worry you had an autistic kid.

 

Hmmm, this is rather an odd comment. My Son's are grown and I have Grandchildren. Obviously I stated the age range for people to picture or remember wee babies running around trying to mimic their parents.....

 

In regards Autism, for those that may have such a child, it is no laughing matter and should not be used in jest, in my opinion.

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I was not jesting.

 

Comparing a parrot to a human child is a deeply flawed comparison. A human brain, if normal, has a great deal more potential and complexity.

 

I think it is a gross disservice to anthropomorphize our birds.

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You misunderstand. A (normal) 5 year old has much more intellect than a parrot.

 

Lulu can fly, and a five year old human cannot. That's about it, I am afraid.

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Oh Sir, I'm so sorry, there's so much you have yet to learn about these wonderful birds, Dan is very right, "No laughing Matter". What our professions are, other then, " The Keepers of the Grey", doesn't really matter, we have ditch diggers such as I, as well as intellects with outrages IQ's, on this wonderful forum, and each knows a lot about something's, and very little about other things, that's why were all here.. "A human brain, if normal, has a great deal more potential and complexity.", Yes, this is true, after the age of five, give or take....Jay d

Edited by Jayd
Corrected spelling

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I would say there is a lot of similarities between the intellect of a 2 or 3 year old child and that of a Grey. As for that of autistic children I may say that in some ways the mind of a 5 year old autistic child (in some cases) is far more advanced than that of a "normal" child. I have a 5 year old nephew with severe autism who has trouble speaking clearly but who, at the age of 3, began to teach himself how to read and type, yet can not write. He lacks some of the motor skills needed to do that.

 

I just felt like adding my 2 cents on the subject of autism. It's something I feel people don't know enough about.

Edited by Kaleah

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Good posts Jay and Kaleah.

 

I guess some people just cannot enjoy and smile at a simple and innocent comment regarding our birds accomplishments.

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On the Subject of Cognition.

 

My 3 year old Grey can count to 10, Identify the quantity correctly 80 percent of the time and understands the concept of zero. The cognitive abilities of not just birds, but also many other animals is just starting to be understood completely. He has a vocabulary of 300+ words (I quit counting) uses them in complete sentences and creatively creates sentences of his own in context and correctly, when he is not simply rambling to himself as practice.

 

The point of my comments is not to compare to humans per say, but to ensure all understand that creatures as a whole, are cognitive of much more than we humans have attributed to them. Many studies have been and currently are under way on the cognitive abilities of many animals. I will say again, having a "Young" parrot and yes even my dobermans, reminds me many times of my children when they were 0 to 5 years old. Not so much in cognitive abilities, but the innocent and lively personalities they have and are like sponges at times, like walls at others and when quiet you better go see what they are getting into.

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Sometimes, the mental processes, emotions and speech capabilities of these Grey's just blow me away.

 

I would like to hear others stories as well and keep this thread active, if possible.

 

I have something to share that happened the other day.

 

We've had our Marcus a little while now, but he still is surprising us with phrases he learned in his other home. Well, I was going to leave the bedroom where he and Beaker (our Quaker parrot) live, and so I turned to them and said, "Mommy will be back in a minute."

 

"Ten seconds!" Marcus piped up.

 

That gave me a bit of a start--if it was a coincidence, the timing was quite amazing. I called my mom later and told her about it and she suggested perhaps, in his former home, Marcus had become accustomed to the phrase "ten seconds" whenever someone would leave for a little bit. But when I told my husband he said it could be coincidence--but with Greys you can never really tell. (Yes, we are fans of Alex and company and I've also read Tweti's book where Kisi and Morgan both get a few pages in the spotlight!)

 

Anyway, I then said to Marcus, "Okay, ten seconds!" And I popped out into the hall and counted to ten out loud for his benefit since I'm trying to get him used to the concepts of numbers... and when I went back in the bedroom he and Beaker were naturally very happy to see me again. :)

 

In any event, I thought that little interchange with Marcus was rather interesting...

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What an excellent observation and response. You will find many things, I am sure that will come up that he has learned from his previous home and that is how he is going to interact and expect to receive a response from all humans. You will learn them all over time and he will adapt as well to your methodologies, terminologies, body language, tone of voice etc. It is going to be a wonderful learning experience for you all. :)

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Hello Everyone !!!

I have not been here in awhile so I thought I would stop by so I could tell everyone what Houdini has been up to. Since I was last here Houdini is finally talking...I was soooo worried because I kept thinking I wasnt loving on him enough or playing with him enough or that I was just doing something wrong. It wasnt a month or so after that he started talking. So now this is what he says:

Hello

Good Bye

Peek-a-boo

Youuu-whoooo

I love you

Come on Dakota (Dakota is the grandbaby)

and he whistles up a storm sometimes he makes his own whistle then other times he does the sexy whistle, the come here whistle.

so he is comming around I am so proud of him. I am glad he is ok because I was worried about that too that maybe he had something wrong with him...I worry alot can ya tell...lol

any way he is doing just fine he follows me around the house and he flys to the bath room when he hears the water running he knows its shower time and we take a shower together. He is very cuddly he puts his little head down on my chest and I will scratch his head for him and when I stop he will look up at me and make this really soft chirp noise as to say some more please...lol

I love him so much. I was able to take him outside this summer on his harness , but a couple of weeks ago it was atop his cage and he chewed it up...lol so I will need a new one for next summer...lol ;););)

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" I will say again, having a "Young" parrot and yes even my dobermans, reminds me many times of my children when they were 0 to 5 years old. Not so much in cognitive abilities, but the innocent and lively personalities they have and are like sponges at times, like walls at others and when quiet you better go see what they are getting into". Loved this comment, Dan. I have no children and because of Tobies childlike personality and the things he sais I am experiencing parenthood for the first time through him. I have always said my dogs were my children, but this is more so. Congratulations on Dayo counting to 10. That is quite amazing. I'll have to work on that with Tobie.

 

I want to share - since I'm here - two things that Tobie said recently that surprised me. I heard them clearly and I'm sure he ment exactly what he said. I was in the kitchen just out of sight of Tobie and he said " Whatcha doing! (No surprise since he often asks that if he can't see me) I answered "I'm fixing lunch" After a quiet pause of about 10 seconds he said "Whatcha doing Nooowww" . Surprised me because I'm sure he's never heard me say that.

 

The other thing he said. He was on his play stand looking down at Brandy(the dog) who is kind of a buddy of his. Tobie sais "Whats uuuup, Brandy?" . Brandy, of course didn't say anything. Tobie sais, "You don't know what's uuuupp???" The lilt to his voice asking the question was sooo funny - wish I had a video.

Edited by Janfromboone

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Hi Jan - It's wonderful to hear about Tobie and I wish we would hear more. Tobie is such a wonderful, intelligent and entertaining Grey! :)

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