Parrots Making Video Calls and Friends
Plus abused pets and wild feathered friends
Parrots are social animals, so when a study reported parrots making video calls and making new friends, it was helpful news to all parrot owners. Pet advisor Cathy M. Rosenthal addresses parrots as pets. She also looks at proper channels when a pet is being abused and at wild bird friends.
An estimated 20 million parrots are kept as household pets in the United States. Parrots are flock animals though, who can suffer from loneliness when kept alone as a pet. So, researchers at Northwest University conducted the Birds of a Feather study to see if parrot loneliness could be improved when given access to other parrots through video calling.
Working with parrot owners, researchers taught the birds how to initiate video calls and touch a picture of the parrot on the screen that they wanted to talk to during the call. In the first phase, 18 parrots made 212 calls. In the second phase, 15 birds made 147 calls, often selecting the same parrot “friend” to talk to over and over again. Caretakers reported that these calls were a positive experience for their birds and that they learned new skills from their online pals, like foraging, new vocalizations, and even flying. Some parrots even wanted to show their friends their toys.
“She came alive during the calls,” reported one caregiver.
Overall, making video calls with other parrots was a very positive experience for these birds; some are still chatting online a year later.
If you don’t have a parrot, think twice before getting one. Their intelligence and need to be with a flock contribute to their loneliness as a pet. Their 75-year lifespan often results in eventual abandonment as well when a pet owner dies or is tired of taking care of the bird.
If you do have a parrot, however, this study is an eye-opener in what you must do to improve your bird’s mental health. Find another parrot friend that your bird can talk to through video chats or actually visit with during organized play dates. Every species needs a friend who speaks their language.
I want to pass along my experience with a neighbor. Many years ago, the people behind me got a puppy. The poor thing was tied outside and crying for over an hour. I could not take it, and went over and spoke with the adult man of the house. I had never met him before. I stated that I was not sure if they could hear from inside of their house that their dog was crying. I said it in the most non-confrontational way that I could. He said if it bothered me so much, he would go and shoot the dog. OMG! I contacted animal control, and they said, “Don’t ever do that again.”
If one feels there is an issue with any pet, contact animal control and let them handle it. Never contact the owner directly.
— Liz P, Newington, Connecticut
Thank you for trying to help that puppy. Unfortunately, most people don’t react well to unsolicited advice, even when there is good intention behind it. They often get defensive and can become adversarial. And some people are so obnoxious, they will threaten the animal’s life in the hopes of upsetting you even more. But you can’t discount they might follow through with their threat, so it’s good you called animal control.
Animal control’s job is literally to check on animals and talk to and educate their owners about proper pet care and adherence to city ordinances. They encounter adversarial people too, but they are trained to handle difficult people and have the city’s authority behind them. Also, to keep the peace, they also won’t reveal to the pet owner which neighbor complained. So, I agree, for everyone’s safety, calling animal control is the best way to get help for a pet who needs an advocate.
Recently, Marvin from Massapequa, New York, asked about ducks returning yearly to his home. We have had the same pair visit us for seven years. They still come every April and May, even though we removed our pool. The female is always ravenous when she arrives. We give them cracked corn in a shallow bowl with water. It is such a treat to see Lucy and Desi every year. We love them.
— Doris, Massapequa, New York
It’s always a delight to interact with nature and notice the migrations of our feathered friends. For me, it’s hummingbirds that visit every March through September. While I don’t know for sure if the same ones are returning from their migration, I am pretty sure they are since birds generally return to places where they have lived and where there are known food sources. I am certain you and Marvin are seeing the same ducks year after year, which is a gift few people get to enjoy. Thanks for sharing.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist, and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. She addresses reader questions as diverse as parrots making video calls to outdoor cat safety to bizarre dog behavior. Send your pet questions, stories, and tips to email@example.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.
©2023 Tribune Content Agency, LLC
As an Amazon Associate, Boomer Magazine earns from qualifying purchases of linked products.