How do par­rots ‘talk’?

Focus-Science and Technology - - Q&A - HENRY WORRALL, LON­DON

In the wild, par­rots live in flocks and they learn to copy the ‘catch­phrases’ of their own flock, as a way of telling who be­longs to the flock and who is an out­sider. Scans show that par­rot brains have a dif­fer­ent struc­ture from song­birds’, and this can help to ex­plain why they’re so good at vo­cal learn­ing.

In cap­tiv­ity, alone in a cage, the only vo­cal­i­sa­tions avail­able to par­rots are hu­man speech, so they nat­u­rally learn to im­i­tate this in­stead.

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