Parrots are known for their intelligence and social behavior, and a recent study has shed new light on just how complex their interactions with each other can be. Researchers have discovered that some species of parrots use tokens as currency, sharing them with their pals so they can purchase food from a vending machine.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, focused on a group of captive parrots from two different species: African grey parrots and blue-headed macaws. The parrots were trained to exchange tokens for food from a vending machine, which dispensed a variety of nuts and seeds.
The researchers observed that the parrots quickly learned how to use the vending machine, and they were able to share their tokens with other birds in their group. The birds would often approach each other and offer a token as a form of payment, which the other bird could then use to get food from the machine.
But the researchers didn’t stop there. They wanted to see if the parrots understood the concept of trade, so they created a scenario in which one bird had to give up a token to another bird in order to receive a better quality of food. The results were surprising: the parrots were willing to give up their tokens in exchange for better food, showing that they understood the value of the tokens and were able to engage in a simple form of trade.
The researchers say that this behavior is similar to that seen in primates, which are known to engage in reciprocal altruism, or the exchange of goods or services with the expectation of future rewards. The parrots’ behavior shows that this kind of social interaction is not limited to primates, but can also be found in other intelligent animals like birds.
The study has important implications for our understanding of animal behavior and cognition. It suggests that parrots have a level of intelligence and social awareness that is often overlooked, and it raises questions about the complexity of social interactions in other bird species as well.
So the next time you see a parrot, remember that these colorful birds are not just pretty to look at – they are also capable of sophisticated social behavior that rivals that of some of our closest primate relatives.