Gray parrots are known for their intelligence. Researchers working with one gray parrot, named Alex, found that he could communicate with a vocabulary of 150 words.
A new study, published June 21 in the journal Royal Society Biological Sciences, finds that parrots can use logical reasoning to find food hidden in one of two cups.
When one parrot, named Awisa, saw two different types of food placed in a cup and later saw a researcher show her one of the types of food, she figured out that the researcher must have removed the food from one of the cups, leaving the other snack undisturbed. About 75 percent of the time, Awisa picked the undisturbed cup as the one that would contain a food treat.
Parrots are the first non-primates to demonstrate this kind of logical reasoning.
Human children can make these logical leaps by at least age four.
Researcher Sandra Mikolasch, pictured here, says the research is reason to treat animals with respect. She did the experiment at a bird rescue facility, and many of the parrots had endured terrible conditions before being taken in by the facility.
Live Science newsletter
Stay up to date on the latest science news by signing up for our Essentials newsletter.
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.