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danmcq

Grey Cognition and language abilities

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We were given a 13 y-o CAG several years ago. Due to a tragic and totally unforeseen accident he is gone and we now have a 9 month-old CAG. Our former Grey, Sam, would say, "It's alright!" when he was scared by something. We knew that the wife of the couple who previously owned him was the one who would reassure him when he got scared of something, because it was always a woman's voice. And yes, he used it appropriately all the time! It was never part of his chatting-for-the-sake-of-making-noise routine.

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It's thundering here and the sky is turning dark so swiftly. I just got in from being out of the house this morning and let Marcus out of his cage; the door of the birdroom is open, Marcus on the top of his cage now, and while I was out in the hallway and passed by his door a couple of minutes ago, he said something relatively loud and quick, but not exactly intelligible to me. So I made some halfway-distracted reply, just to acknowledge him. And then, only a moment later, some part of my brain twisted around and deciphered his sounds enough so that understanding dawned on me: Marcus had said, "That's the rain." I turned on my heel and called over, "Yes, the rain's coming, that's the thunder!" Because I've been talking about the thunder lately whenever we can hear it in the birdroom, and then when it does start raining I've been going on about how that's the rain, water is coming down from the sky outside. Stuff like that. So Marcus has been paying attention to everything after all! :)

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So Marcus has been paying attention to everything after all! :)

 

You are under surveillance 24/7 now, so be careful. :)

 

Thanks for sharing this.

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You are under surveillance 24/7 now, so be careful. :)

 

I'll say! When my husband got home from work tonight and showered, he then walked in the boys' room like normal and talked to them for a bit. He came to me afterward and told me that as he was leaving, Marcus said to him, "Go get dressed!"

 

And then, not too long after that, when my husband saw me yawning, he suggested I go take a nap before dinner; so I stretched out on the floor of the birdroom--which I've found is the one place in the house where I can often become relaxed enough to actually catch a few winks, outside of crawling into bed. Anyway, after a number of minutes, I realized the nap just wasn't going to happen, my brain was too wired, so I opened my eyes and blinked a little as I stared up at the ceiling. Above me in the semi-darkness, I suddenly heard Marcus say, "Gonna get up?"

 

Yee, he's becoming very comfortable with us! :)

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Wow, now that is Marcus displaying his underlying cognitive and speech abilities. Talk about no doubt that he uses our language and does so accurately in real-time!

 

What a perfect example of just how "Aware" our greys are. It seems the flood gates are starting to open. Thanks for sharing this. :)

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So Marcus has just been in love with the fact that he can say his Daddy's name anymore: Ross. (I think I maybe heard my name once today but, ahh, until it's a "for sure" thing I'm not getting excited about it.) Anyway, with this new name-calling ability of his, Marcus has discovered that he has some power. Because, of course, when he first started calling "Ross!... Ross!" he would get lots of attention, and his Daddy would come running or simply just respond vocally. So Marcus has started attaching his Daddy's name to all sorts of new and neat things since then, comments and commands and... commands... we've never heard from him before. :P

 

My husband's habit when he comes home from work is to greet the dog (can't avoid that, really, she is such a jumping jack when he walks in!) and whatever cats are around, he air-kisses me, and then he heads into the shower before he goes to see the boys--the birds. Apparently, Marcus thinks he showers for far too long. I heard strange, garbled things about "Ross, something-something out of the shower NOW!" and other surprises of demands the other night. And today, boy, was Marcus a snooty-patootie: He was yelling stuff for my husband to hear, and yet I really don't think my husband can hear him well through the spray and everything, so he would only call back stuff like "I'm in the shower, Marcus!" every once in a while.

 

It seems that Marcus lost his patience. After listening to my husband's apparent 'excuses' for what he deemed was far too long, as my hubby turned off the water and I heard the shower curtain being opened, Marcus shouted in a louder tone, "Ross, YOU BRAT!"

 

"Did he just call me a brat?"

 

But, wretched me, I was giggling too much in the kitchen to be of much help to the situation. What a stinker! Of course Marcus was basically snubbed while we ate dinner afterward, despite his Ross-this and Ross-that demands. At one point, my husband was like, "Marcus, I'm eating!" Marcus' voice was kind of high and funny-sounding when he immediately called back through the house, "I know that!"

 

I can only imagine his little Grey self in his cage just staring through the bars into the kitchen, hearing us out here in the den, eating our food. Some nights he's invited out during dinnertime to hang out on his playgym, but not tonight. In spite of my gentle suggestions, he never did apologize to his Daddy for calling him a brat, and so he had to wait until dinner was over to get to spend any time with him.

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Hahahahaha!!:-))))))))))) This is hilarious!! You have such a smart, smart boy! I'm in awe! :-D Love reading your stories:-D Thank you for sharing:-)

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At one point, my husband was like, "Marcus, I'm eating!" Marcus' voice was kind of high and funny-sounding when he immediately called back through the house, "I know that!"

 

You bet he "Knows That". :)

 

What a brilliant Grey Marcus is! It's great to hear he is really opening up and participating in the flock dynamics within the household now. It all sounds like huge tons of enjoyment.

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^^ Morana, Dan, thank you both. Yes, it's wonderful, Marcus seems to be in "full bloom" right now... He just keeps popping out with these conversationally-appropriate phrases at the most unexpected times, it's really a bit startling still, but we do love hearing his ways of expressing his personal little 'take' on this world--sassy though they sometimes may be! :P

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I love having this forum and being able to share our love of parrots, Greys in particular. I find that people who don't have one of these amazing birds just look at you when you start to tell them something and silently think, here goes another bird story. Here there is a willing audience and the chance to read about what the other Greys are doing. My baby, Quinn, just 5 months old is now starting to experiment with sounds, no words yet, somehow I think that may be soon. He is like a small child realizing he has a voice and can babble using what he hears around him. This is exciting as I have never had a baby Grey before.This morning was the first time he respond to hearing me move around just after getting up. He is usually silent but started making some of the sounds he was making last night. I can't wait until I can join you all with stories of my own. Quinn now accepts me as a member of his flock and just loves being right near me on his tree to watch what I am doing, especially in the kitchen.

There is so much to look forward to with him.

Casey

IMG_0176.jpg

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My guys never fail to impress me with the intelligence or ability to understand what I'm saying to them. Here are a few examples:

 

Dixie - CAG - 3.5 years old

 

Dixie absolutely hates to have a bath. Her hatred of bathing doesn't deter me, she gets wet at least twice a week, soaked through thoroughly, and slightly wet at least three other times during the week. With 5 birds in one room it's a must to keep down the dander and helps with low humidity of an air conditioned house. I went out of town for a week and when I got home, other than the normal gotta do's when you get home, my priority was giving the birds their bath. I knew Dixie would protest the loudest, but in my best, I'm your mother and I know best voice I informed he she was getting a bath. I received the usual round of "no, no bath" comments, but being the adult, I didn't give in. Obviously Beau, Morgan, Yoshi, Blue & Bean all went first, all returned to their cages in very wet states, and happy little campers, all where Dixie could see them. I almost caved in when the phone rang and distracted me, still hearing Dixie ordering "no bath" in the background. After the conversation was over, I turned to her and said, "Dixie, are you ready for your bath?" To my surprise - and I almost fell out of my chair - she said "Yes." I must have asked her 15 times, do you really want a bath? Each time she replied "Yes." So up to the bathroom we went, perched her on her shower perch and got out the spray bottle. The little bugger even lifted her wings about half way for me. I was in shock. Still am to be honest. She hasn't taken a bath that willingly since, but she doesn't appear to hate it as much.

 

Beau - CAG - 2 years

 

Beau isn't much of a talker. He reminds me of my third child who didn't need to talk much, her older sister talked enough for both of them and would answer as quickly for her sister as for herself. I'm hoping that will change for Beau as it did for Caiti, she talks more than she should most of the time, but she's 21 now...lol. Holding out hope for Beau. That's not to say he doesn't express himself when he really wants to. Beau loves to sit on my shoulder and get scratched. He would let me do that all day. Of course there are many times when we're sitting here and I'm busy (like now) and need both hands on the keyboard. Now I can't scratch his head a key at the same time so his way of handling the situation is to climb down to my chest and put his head down. If that doesn't get a response, he reaches up and pulls down on the bridge of my glasses, pulling my head down with them so I have no choice but to pay attention to him. What is funnier than that is when he wants Morgan - Amazon - to come over and play. He will call Morgan and off flys Morgan over to wherever Beau is - his cage, the rope door, the boing. Now to get Morgan to respond to me that way!

 

Morgan - Amazon - 1 year old

 

Morgan calls Mom, Mom, Mom whenever I leave the room, pull into the drive way, you name it, he's seen me or he's heard me, he's calling MOM! If I don't answer it continues for forever. The minute I say Morgan, I'm right here, he stops and then starts chattering away. Morgan doesn't speak to just anyone though. LP has no problem getting him to step up from the rope door or his cage as long as he tells Morgan he is going to see me - in another part of the house, otherwise, there is no way on earth Morgan will step up for LP. If he's on his cage he goes inside, if he's on the rope door he flys back to his cage, but say "You want to go see Mom?" and that bird is on your hand like skin! The minute Morgan sees me, he's calling MOM! and then when he gets to me, he steps up and chatters away. If he stays on LP's hand for any length of time, I speak to him but he refuses to say another word.

 

Robin

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Great stories of your flocks cognitive abilities Robin. Thanks for sharing these! :)

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Every once in a while I'll pull out a particularly nice outfit from my closet to go someplace special. When I get dressed in the boys' room during such relatively exciting and unusual times (my closet is in the birdroom), I'll often turn to Marcus and say, "Do you like it? It's my pretty blue dress," or whatever the garment is. He generally just kind of looks at me when I ask him those types of questions, giving no sort of reply (or any indication of even vague interest at all!).

 

Well, today I received a package of clothes I had ordered online recently, and like I do with their orders of pellets and such, I opted to open this box in the birdroom in front of the boys. After fawning over everything for a moment or two, I tried on one of my new shirts and I turned to Marcus. "Does it look good?"

 

Marcus was hanging out in the corner of his cage, as close to me as he could get while I knelt on the floor. Not missing a beat, he replied, "I think I like it." :)

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Marcus was hanging out in the corner of his cage, as close to me as he could get while I knelt on the floor. Not missing a beat, he replied, "I think I like it." :)

 

What a perfect response from Marcus! It just shows once again, how intelligent these greys are. Thanks for sharing this. :)

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I think Quinn is starting to learn to talk. I am not sure of the process. He has imitated the sound of a kiss and just started to get the wolf whistle. He is 7 mos old. He announces all my comings and goings and has sounds that he uses a lot. I know he likes the sound of the microwave and thought that would be first. Is this the first stage prior to talking? Does the talking follow fairly soon after?

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I think Quinn is starting to learn to talk. I am not sure of the process. He has imitated the sound of a kiss and just started to get the wolf whistle. He is 7 mos old. He announces all my comings and goings and has sounds that he uses a lot. I know he likes the sound of the microwave and thought that would be first. Is this the first stage prior to talking? Does the talking follow fairly soon after?

 

Right now, Quinn is just experimenting with contact calls, sounds and whistles. Those first always by instinct to survive and interact with the flock (you and household members). On average, talking starts around 12 to 14 months, should they decide to do so. Some never speak human, but do very well at conveying their needs and desires through whistles, sounds and body language. Just enjoy this baby time. :)

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I have another "Huh!" moment to share about our Marcus...

 

A few minutes ago, I went into the boys' room where my closet is to dig out some books from the depths of a small chest I had hidden in there. I re-organized and generally cleaned out my closet a few weeks ago, so when I opened the closet door just now I told the boys--who are all presently in their cages after being out for a while this morning--that I was just going through my closet again to look for some books. This comment was made as I started yanking things out and throwing them behind me on the floor.

 

Marcus was on the cholla cactus perch affixed to his closed door, his body facing me directly as I started littering the floor in front of his cage with various objects. Very clearly, but in a decidedly low (unenthused) tone, he said, "Are we going through this again?"

 

Ha! I guess he didn't like the big mess I made last time (when it took forever to organize my clothes and things), so today I cleaned up the floor as quickly as I could once I'd found my books, and I told him it was all back to normal. I assume he is somewhat relieved, considering everything. :P

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Marcus was on the cholla cactus perch affixed to his closed door, his body facing me directly as I started littering the floor in front of his cage with various objects. Very clearly, but in a decidedly low (unenthused) tone, he said, "Are we going through this again?"

 

Ha! I guess he didn't like the big mess I made last time (when it took forever to organize my clothes and things), so today I cleaned up the floor as quickly as I could once I'd found my books, and I told him it was all back to normal. I assume he is somewhat relieved, considering everything. :P

 

What an incredible thing for Marcus to say!!! Talk about cognitive abilites and vocabulary!!!

 

It certainly makes one wonder what else is inside that brain of his still waiting for the appropriate time and place to trigger it. :)

 

Thanks for sharing this, it was a joy reading.

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What an incredible thing for Marcus to say!!! Talk about cognitive abilites and vocabulary!!!

 

It certainly makes one wonder what else is inside that brain of his still waiting for the appropriate time and place to trigger it. :)

 

Thanks for sharing this, it was a joy reading.

 

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Dan. And really, I was surprised and impressed by what Marcus said, myself--but more because he revealed he didn't like how messy I'd let the birdroom become before (I didn't ever think to wonder if he'd notice/care either way!), and not so much because of what he actually said. In some respects, I'm starting to get used to him just popping out with stuff like that, even though it is always like "Wow!" when I do first actually hear him say something so relatively complex. I mean, I generally don't consider the goofy babble that Marcus produces during the day 'talking' so much as just him having fun with sounds and words. And all food is still "french fry" to him, and all the other parrots are still "Beaker", he makes no effort at all to differentiate between them vocally and learn/use each of their names, in spite of our efforts to encourage him otherwise. But then Marcus comes out with stuff like this... and it's like, yes, he's definitely paying attention to the things we say around him. If I may say so, it's humbling to me, really, because it's a reminder that even when I get so caught up in my own life, there's a whole world of little lives and feelings that--even if not human--are all intertwined on this beautiful planet and of whose existence I have only the slightest, vaguest understanding.

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I mean, I generally don't consider the goofy babble that Marcus produces during the day 'talking' so much as just him having fun with sounds and words. And all food is still "french fry" to him, and all the other parrots are still "Beaker", he makes no effort at all to differentiate between them vocally and learn/use each of their names, in spite of our efforts to encourage him otherwise. But then Marcus comes out with stuff like this... and it's like, yes, he's definitely paying attention to the things we say around him.

 

There is no doubt he is paying attention and understands all that is going on. Dayo and all other greys do the same thing in regards just kicking back and rambling along in word, whistle and sound effects. It is mostly just remembering, calibrating and also word play to see how some may be used in sentences correctly.

 

The are some words, that are meant as a generalization such as you suggest by many greys I know of. He may well call the entire flock of mixed species as "Beaker". Dayo for example calls my youngest sons entire family by saying, as they all enter, "Hi Jeff". He will also say "Hi Jeff" to any single member of his family if they come alone. I have named each member of his family for the last 4.5 years with their individual names, but Dayo does not care because it is one of the "Jeff" flock.

 

The use of a food word as you describe "French Fry" is another generalization or he may be him telling you he would rather have "French Fries". Dayo does this as well. If we are cooking spaghetti for example, he will many times come out with "Ummmm Rigatoni", which is his favorite pasta dish. He knows the word spaghetti and uses when he seems actually wanting some and will say "Ummmm Spaghetti". Other times he will sound off with a completely different dish type like "Enchiladas". I hopes this may shed some light on what the use of specific words may be used for as generalizations or actual requests.

 

 

If I may say so, it's humbling to me, really, because it's a reminder that even when I get so caught up in my own life, there's a whole world of little lives and feelings that--even if not human--are all intertwined on this beautiful planet and of whose existence I have only the slightest, vaguest understanding.

 

Wonderfully put!!! We Humans do many times ignore the fact that we are just one of millions of species inhabiting this earth and are all reliant upon the balance, harmony and circle of life that makes all codependent upon all the others.

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Yes, thank you so much for your reply, Dan, that does make a lot of sense. And that part you shared about Dayo and the "Jeff" flock, I just love it!! I've just kind of been assuming for a while that maybe it was a developmental thing, that Marcus just hasn't, erm, progressed far enough (???) to determine the need to differentiate between various things in a general category (ie- food). Because a lot of Greys I read about here have a vast vocabulary, again as an example, for their various footstuffs: cookies, almonds, apple, whatever. But if that generalization is common, too, then I won't worry about it all so much and just let him be who he wants to be. :)

 

Although I will say that Marcus does occasionally say "birdies" to refer to the calls he hears outside. So thinking about it now, I suppose that would suggest a certain communal acceptance or at least an acknowledgement of these other small parrots (Beaker, Tybalt, Bunsen) being a part of Marcus' life and those other "birdies" being strangers, separate from our flock. Would it suggest any form of a hierarchy too (presumably with Marcus at the top?) even though parrot flocks generally don't have a 'top bird', as I understand things. Yet this is a flock of mixed species and I kind of get the impression that Marcus considers himself Number One when dealing with the others... Anyway, I don't mean to ramble, I'm sorry. Just thank you so much for your reply, it really was very enlightening and I shared it with my hubby too. We both appreciate it very much that you took the time to write all that.

Edited by MarcusCAG

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Although I will say that Marcus does occasionally say "birdies" to refer to the calls he hears outside. So thinking about it now, I suppose that would suggest a certain communal acceptance or at least an acknowledgment of these other small parrots (Beaker, Tybalt, Bunsen) being a part of Marcus' life and those other "birdies" being strangers, separate from our flock. Would it suggest any form of a hierarchy too (presumably with Marcus at the top?) even though parrot flocks generally don't have a 'top bird', as I understand things. Yet this is a flock of mixed species and I kind of get the impression that Marcus considers himself Number One when dealing with the others... Anyway, I don't mean to ramble, I'm sorry. Just thank you so much for your reply, it really was very enlightening and I shared it with my hubby too. We both appreciate it very much that you took the time to write all that.

 

Parrots all have a communal relationship flock wise and of course a personal relationship with their life long chosen mate. Greys of course only flock with their own species and will at times run into other Grey flocks at feeding areas etc. However their "Flock" always sticks together.. I have a gut feeling that all other birds are considered by them as just "Birdies" of a different sort that are not welcome. It is interesting that Marcus does indeed make the distinct use of "Birdies" for all other outside birds which are not a part of his mixed flock. Dayo makes the same differentiation of "Birdies" outside as well. He does however classify crows as "Crows" I assume due to their large size and hostile personalities to all other species.

 

I do know though, that members of the flock each grey belongs to, does have a unique name and other greys know that parrot language call/name. I will say, Dayo in terms of his flock in our home uses each of our respective names which includes Jake our conure and the dogs. The only human outside of those that live in our home that Dayo calls by name is Dakota. Dakota was in infant just learning to crawl when Dayo met her and he was enthralled with this wee little infant human. He would fly and observe her wherever she would venture and still does to this day while she is now 1.5 years old. He constanting talks about "Dakota", asks about Dakota and wants to talk to Dakota when we are on the phone talking to her. I do not truly understand this obsession and focus on her, but can only believe it is some instinctual embedded response to a baby flock member that must be watched over by the flock.

 

I do not believe Marcus thinks of himself as the "Top" bird. He simply puts up with them and probably being the largest, can push his weight around if one starts encroaching on his territory, flock (you and family), cage, food items etc. Dayo is the same way. He will drive Jake off if Jakes gets in his "Space", sits on one of our shoulders too long or tries to get some of his food. There are times Dayo gets so irritated he will take to flight and scream like a pterodactyl chasing Jake from room to room and back until he figures he has got the message across to Jake to NEVER do that again. :P

 

It is interesting watching all these real-time events and trying to analyze what is driving each behavior and why. Just when I think I positively figured something out, BAM I see a different response that makes me go back to the drawing board at times. I have no doubt, some things we humans will just never truly be able to come to a complete understanding of and will just have to write it off as a :Grey thing" ... :)

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kallie is almost 3 now. she has very little vocabulary but lots of sounds. she does play with "word" sounds, the latest are blah blah blue (with blue being a "higher note") and hoo hoo haaa (the same way, with "notes"). i repeat then change it up ex. blue blue blah or laa laa loo, etc. she's still "speaking" in athena, our conure's voice, imitating everything she says, so i respond to that the same as i do when athena says those things. there are times kallie will say some of the few things she was saying when we got her and i respond then too. she still "practices" with her back to us, speaking, mumbling quietly, it's cute! the closest we've come to a "proper" response is only one time when she said, ok after my husband asked me a question, and we both stopped, looked at her and told her what a good girl she is and that she was right! i'm hoping she'll continue to increase her vocabulary and speak more in her own voice, not just in athena's so much. we ask her if she will speak "in" kallie instead of "in" athena, but the connection is slow to come. but it doesn't really matter, we love them both no matter what!

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...I do not believe Marcus thinks of himself as the "Top" bird. He simply puts up with them and probably being the largest, can push his weight around if one starts encroaching on his territory, flock (you and family), cage, food items etc. Dayo is the same way. He will drive Jake off if Jakes gets in his "Space", sits on one of our shoulders too long or tries to get some of his food...

 

I don't want to 'quote' the whole of your passage here but I just want to say: Excellent, excellent reply with everything you wrote, Dan. So very enlightening and informative; and I particularly enjoyed the thought above ^^ pertaining to these comparatively larger Greys "throwing their weight around" with the smaller parrots, and that it's still a flock mentality instead of an issue of I'm-higher-than-you. Thank you so much for everything you shared, I truly enjoyed reading it all. :)

 

And I just want to say, I just emailed my hubby and shared what you said about everything, and he wrote back that he is consequently "honored" that Marcus has decided to use our individual names and not just a general 'title' like he does for the little parrots, that we mean that much to him. (I mean, I figured we did, but it's still nice to hear such reasoning broken down so clearly.) Funny thing though, like your Dayo, Marcus calls our dog by name too... but the cats aren't even 'cats', they're nothing! Hahaha. So interesting, these lovely Grey minds! Again, Dan, thank you for all of your insightful input and experience, we really appreciate it. :)

Edited by MarcusCAG
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Just thank you so much for your reply, it really was very enlightening and I shared it with my hubby too. We both appreciate it very much that you took the time to write all that.

 

Your more than welcome and I am glad it shed some light on the behaviors. :)

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