Video calling solution for lonely parrots 08:34 Abroad , Tech , Remarkable The animals learned how to call eighteen of their own species. They became happier and even learned new behaviors.

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A bell from a parrot
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Video calling could be a way to give parrots more social interaction with conspecifics. A British-American study with eighteen birds shows that the participants became happier and even learned new behavior. According to the scientists, it was the first time that animals could reach each other themselves whenever they wanted.

“Video calling has helped people a lot during the corona pandemic. We wanted to find out if birds could also benefit from it,” explains researcher Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas from the University of Glasgow. “The pet internet is already out there: there are hundreds of products that owners can use to connect with their pet, but it’s mostly about what people want, not what the animals need.”

In this study, the birds were trained to ring a bell when they wanted to start a video call. They could then choose from the various discussion partners on a screen by pointing to a photo. Initially, the owners still had to assist, but eventually the animals themselves could take the initiative.

Images of the winged friends:

Birds of a Feather Video-Flock Together: Design and Evaluation of an Agency-Based Parrot-to-Parro...

Birds of a Feather Video-Flock Together: Design and Evaluation of an Agency-Based Parrot-to-Parro…

“The parrots seemed to recognize that they were dealing with real conspecifics and their behavior was similar to real-life interactions,” said Jennifer Cunha, another researcher. In three months, 359 calls were made between the animals.

Cunha says that contact is important because parrots are social and often live in large groups in the wild. Social isolation can lead to psychological complaints, which manifest themselves, for example, in restless behavior or pulling out feathers.

The birds followed were just enlivened by the bells and went to preen feathers, sing and play. Cunha: “We even saw birds learning to forage and one owner reported that a parrot flew for the first time after a call.”

As further evidence that the technology makes the animals more social, the researchers report that the birds that made the most calls also received the most calls back.

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