bird brains
February 2019 by V. R. Duin


“She's perfect”, said Lucy with a great big smile.
“But to teach her to talk will take a while.”
They named their noisy parrot Dolly.
Lucy was thrilled that the name rhymed with Molly.

While parrots are smart with bird brains that let them speak with meaning, Dolly the Parrot questions if this can help people learn what is smarter than a talking bird.

Parrots are smart. A lack of smarts does not go with a parrot. African Grey Parrots and Blue Fronted Amazons rank highly for their high-quality speaking. Compare the size of a parrot's head to its body. It is of genius size. Whoever would have thought they are relatives of reptiles and amphibians? Parrots may not do as well as chimpanzees on memory tests. However, parrots are smart birds, with amazing bird brains that may help people learn to overcome disabilities.

A talking parrot does not just say words. Parrots can copy sounds, like whistling and laughter. Research shows they speak with meaning. It is hard to figure out what is smarter than a talking bird. Entertainment and advertising businesses turn to animal-talent agents to find the perfect large or small feathered actor for a leading role in a coming hit. Researchers have made intelligence tests for birds. Studies show team players may be smarter than their lone cousins.

Parrots are team players. However, there should be no surprise if parrots do not always answer in the way one might hope. A talking parrot might decide not to talk. A parrot may not do as asked. Parrots have minds of their own. Birds are symbols of freedom and creative thinking. This may keep birds from ranking as high among people as “man's best friend”. The hard training process may help pets and their owners sleep better at the end of the day.

Birds do not talk to make noise. Although parrots prove to be smart, tests of bird brains are not complete. There are no tests to fully show which animals and birds are smarter than others. All animals show free will. It can take a lot of time, patience and treats to prepare any animal for camera-ready or live performances. A friendly bond and care for the animal's special needs goes into making a star. This same attention may help people beat language disabilities.

Parrots make many different sounds. Some bird owners, bird lovers and bird breeders complain that parrots are noisy. These individuals are tired of the screeches, squawks, whistles and chirps. They may wish they could undo lessons of the words their birds use over and over. These people may try to find a pet that is smarter than a talking bird. However, what they really may need is something quiet, like a cat. Dreams of chirping birds are said to mean joy and harmony.

Birds should get credit for their choice of sounds. Elephants may understand the differences between languages better than parrots. However, parrots are smart and curious. Because parrots are able to understand ideas and emotions, they may help people learn. Like people, birds use their powerful brains to solve problems and reach their goals. The chosen bird must be trained properly to perform on command. Birds have the smarts to do things on their own. For example, they do not need equipment or maps to travel.

What is some proof parrots speak with meaning? Parrots can call out shapes, colors and things by name. Like people and monkeys, parrots are smart about the use of tools. This use of tools may help people learn how to work with disabilities. Tools can improve the abilities given to them by nature. Unlike a dolphin, parrots may not know when they're seeing themselves in a mirror. However, they do like squawking parrot toys.

Birds dig with sticks and pound nuts against hard things to open them. Parrots will work as a flock to reach a goal. Social animals are able to tell a friend from an enemy. Octopuses can learn to like some people better than others. Birds and other animals may be able to feel coming storms and other changes. Before a talking bird can be trained, the bird owner must get to know the bird's likes and dislikes. It takes time to learn how different birds react to new conditions, things, sounds, activities, individuals and other animals.

Parrots like to receive treats as rewards for success. Praise and treats are useful for the training of all animals. A similar training process can help people learn. It may be very helpful for people with disabilities. With the training of any person or animal, it is important to be consistent. It also helps to start with easy words and lessons. Different treats may be preferred by different birds. Treats are not a good test of what is smarter than a talking bird.

Everyone may learn faster when rewarded with treats of choice. Dogs also learn well with treats. The treats may be different, but people also work for the rewards they like. As with people, parrots live long lives. This makes their development long and slow. The evolution of bird brains to high-level speech may be follow that of people. This evolution may help people beat learning disabilities speak with meaning. During any training, it is important to be aware of individual needs for progress.

Trained animals help people at home and work. Methods used in the training and language development of talking parrots may be useful in human education. For instance, understanding the communication process of birds may help teach autistic and learning-challenged children. The way bird brains grow from noise to high-quality speaking may help people with special education. Understanding language development in animals may uncover what it takes to speak with meaning.

Training animals brings many benefits to people. Training provides stimulation and discipline for learning. Human speech and the teaching of the basic building blocks of language develop with positivity. There must be a good relation between the learner and the trainer or teacher. The training process is good therapy for people and animals. However, it can be exhausting. It is best to stop training when each goal is reached. Each lesson must end well. When lessons can be repeated with success, more goals can be added.

Parrots are social animals. A nest is said to have good meaning. Birds represent health and family stability. Like any member of a team, parrots may not need push to do a task. Parrots may stay with their family until the age of one year. Staying with their parents for less time does not mean an animal is smarter than a talking bird. People can not survive on their own for many years. Someone may provide care to people well past the age of adulthood.

Birds learn quickly for survival parrots learn where to find food. They learn the seasons for the different plants they eat. They can hide food and find it, when needed. has a wonderful site about Bird Intelligence and behaviors. It discusses backyard birds and those in the wild. All animals must be respected during observation and training. Birds will work with people and in situations that make them comfortable. A parrot that is treated like a star, may become a star. This same treatment may help people get ahead.

Parrots may use their brains to avoid work. Birds are often seen as a bridge between the freedom of the sky and ties to the world. Parrots prefer that someone deliver their food. This way, they can rest and have fun. To need no outside help is not a good test of what is smarter than a talking bird. Smart people often turn their work over to others.

Parrots are creative. Parrots know how to sing and dance. A musical beat does not escape these birds. However, all types of music may not agree with all types of birds. Some music may be upsetting, while other music may have a calming effect. Is this so different from the likings of people? Numbers? Who wants the second dance with Dolly, the talking parrot? Let's do our homework and apply our brains to help people learn how to develop the skills, talents, creativity, charisma and “it factor” of any celebrated actor, human or animal.

Can parrots speak with meaning?

  • Speak with Meaning Dolly says:

    Irene Pepperberg, PhD at Harvard, informed the world that parrots are smart in articles and books about her decades with Alex, a parrot proven scientifically to speak with meaning.

  • Parrots are Smart Dolly says:

    In Dr. Pepperberg's mission to improve respect and treatment of birds, she proved parrots are smart enough to process abstract communication.

    • bird brainsDolly says:

      Some researchers believe Dr. Pepperberg's model/rival technique discovered in her work with bird brains holds promise for help people learn to overcome learning disabilities.