Parrots Show Off Selfless Behavior
A series of experiments demonstrated that African grey parrots had something like social intelligence in addition to their cleverness.
From the very first trial, which was described Thursday (Jan. 9) in the journal Current Biology, the parrots with tokens gave them away to its neighboring parrot, even though they got nothing in return. They’re the first non-mammals observed helping each other in this way. Dr. Brucks had trained the parrots to exchange metal tokens for walnuts.
Dr. Brucks tried the experiment on eight African grey parrots. The researchers found that pairs with closer relationships before the experiment were more likely to help one another. And the parrots also helped others they weren’t as close with.
When the researchers repeated the experiment with blue-headed macaws, another type of parrot, the birds only acted selfishly. The researchers think different social systems in the wild may help explain the different results.