Mittwoch, 18. August 2010

Genius by Name and Nature....The Einsteins.....

"I am an African Grey Parrot. I will be turning 22 years old this year & have been performing the Bird Show here in Knoxville since I was 5 years old. I was discovered while living in California, but I only knew a handful of cues (words/sounds that I can perform on demand). In the 15 years I've been at the zoo, I have learned over 100 new cues... & even more words & sounds that I like to practice & perfect in my own time! My people call me "special" & "superstar", but I just LOVE ALL THE ATTENTION--for whatever reason! Honestly, who am I to disagree anyway? Overall, I love living in Tennessee & meeting new people everyday to hopefully make their visit to the Knoxville Zoo even more enjoyable & memorable."

Einstein has lot's of things to say and likes also reading, by the way her favourite book is
Mo Willems' Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, although here she's reading If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss which might be interesting as well not only for parrots.

Einstein was hatched in California in 1987 and lived with a couple until donated to the zoo in 1992 at age 5. Her trainer is Stephanie White. Now enjoy Einstein the amazing multi-talent, here in a German clip, a similar English version you can watch here...

Apart from being"noisy, messy, needy, and expensive", African Grey Parrots are known to be very smart...and so it does not really come as a surprise that there are more Einsteins out there...Now meet Einstein from Texas...
"Hi! I'm Einstein. I am Congo African Grey Parrot and I hatched in June of 1997. I live with Marcia and Jeff in a place called Texas! I am often mistaken for the famous "Einstein" that was featured on the TV show Animal Planet Pet Stars (the one above). The only things we have in common is our name, good looks, and the desire to entertain humans!

I was only 2 months old when Marcia & Jeff named me. African Grey Parrots are monomorphic. That means both males and females look exactly alike. They didn't know if I was a girl or boy and it didn't matter to them because they liked the name Einstein. When I was 3 months old, they took me to an Avian Veterinarian who looked me over and through vent palpation determined I was a Girl! ... "

This kind of exam gives a 90 % certainty, a DNA test to be 100 % sure about the gender is expensive and usually considered when birds go into special breeding programs. As to African Grey Parrots, they mature sexually when they are about 7 years old. They can lay eggs then, but not necessarily, so far Einstein has chosen not to lay eggs, the one she marvels at on her hatchday in the pic above was hatched by her friend Rita. This egg was not fertile as Rita doesn't have a mate.

Einstein from Texas has an impressive vocabulary and can imitate noises too. Let's see her at work...Work Practice

For all who want to know more about African Grey Parrots, the care and food they need, the way they like to be treated, you will find a lot in her interesting blog.

It is there, in a beautiful tribute to Alex where I have found this photo of "Alex, the Einstein of parrots..."
Alex was an African Grey Parrot and the subject of a study on parrot intelligence by animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA.

Alex was in particularly known for his outstanding cognitive abilities, as identifying objects by color, shape, number and material at about the level of chimpanzees and dolphins. His language abilities were equivalent to those of a 2-year old child and he had the problem solving skills of a 5-year old. Alex was learning the alphabet, had a vocabulary of 150 words, knew the names of 50 objects and could count up to seven. He could also answer questions about objects.

So, no wonder at all, that in articles like US Today (May 2008) , he was referred to as the "Einstein of parrots".

Sadly and surprisingly Alex passed away on 6 September 2007 at age 30. African Grey Parrots have usually a life span of about 50 to reportedly 73 years. However the Pepperberg study continues.
Let's have a look now while he is at work...

The goal of The Alex Foundation is to support research that will expand the base of knowledge establishing the cognitive and communicative abilities of parrots as intelligent beings. These findings will be used to encourage the responsible ownership of parrots, conservation and preservation of parrots in the wild, and veterinary research into the psychological diseases and care of these birds. Through these efforts The Alex Foundation, and the memory of Alex, will live on and will accomplish its mission to improve the lives of all parrots worldwide. And here something I didn't learn via Alex's interesting wikipedia site but again by Einstein from Texas...

"The death of Alex is not only a great loss to the parrot community and the field of Avian research, but also for humans too! Dr. Pepperberg's research, which uses a training method called the model-rival technique, also holds promise for teaching autistic and other learning-disabled children who have difficulty learning language, numerical concepts and even empathy. So far, results using this learning technique with small groups of autistic children have been very promising."

I can only say thank you to Alex and all the Einsteins, I am really impressed and I learned more than I would have thought when starting my day yesterday with watching the Rocking Einstein video!

But life for parrots is not only interesting and challenging learning experience, very often parrots experience abuse and neglect. And while still reading in Einstein's blog, the talking parrot from Texas, I found an interesting link to the heartbreaking story of Greenwing Macaw Lola, and a parrot sanctuary called Foster Parrots Ltd., a place where parrots can live safe and free from abuse and fear. So let's end with a quote of Einstein the human...

" Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts. "

Einstein ...The Rocker...
-Einstein's Blogger Profile
-Einstein's Blog
-Zoo Knoxville in Tennessee
YouTube Video Einstein der rockende Papagei

Einstein...The talking Texan Parrot
Blog, Profile, website, YouTube videos, Einstein's Vocabulary, Einstein on Facebook,
- YouTube Einstein's Word Practice , the latest article...

Not Einstein but Alex "the Einstein of parrots"
- Foundation, Remember Alex Site, YouTube Video Alex passes away, Alex on wikipedia (really interesting!), YouTube video Alex the talking parrot

You want to know more about Talking Birds, go to wikipedia, here some general information about African Grey Parrots, more about their status of conservation by BirdLife International, please note that African Grey Parrots are the most heavily traded birds, during 1994-2003 alone over 359,000 wild-caught individuals were reportedly exported. Illegal animal dealers keep hundreds of them often in very bad conditions, see articles from the Limbe Wildlife Centre and WWF. The species is listed as Near Threatened. A "recent analysis suggests that up to 21% of the global population may be harvested annually. In combination with the rate of ongoing habitat loss, the species is therefore suspected to be declining moderately rapidly. "

African Grey Parrots in the wild/Lobeke National Park in Cameroon (WWF)


Dostoy hat gesagt…

Thanks for this wonderful post!

Simba hat gesagt…

You are welcome, Tim!

I really enjoyed working on it as I have learned so much about these extraordinary birds. There are many more others out there, also very special...

I just hope that people understand as well how endangered they are due to illegal trafficking. As long as people want them to have as pets, as long there is a market.

As to the Einsteins I am sure that they are well cared for, having lots of positive stimulation and love. They are very social birds.