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Pretty Bird: Images of a Clever Parrot

Gray Parrot

Gray parrot

(Image credit: © Sandra Mikolasch )

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.

Parrot experiment

Gray parrot

(Image credit: © Sandra Mikolasch)

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.

Bird Choices

Gray parrot

(Image credit: © Sandra Mikolasch)

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.

Parrot Claw

Gray parrot

(Image credit: © Sandra Mikolasch)

Parrots are the first non-primates to demonstrate this kind of logical reasoning.

Curious Parrot

Gray parrot

(Image credit: © Sandra Mikolasch)

Human children can make these logical leaps by at least age four.

Bright Birds

Gray parrot

(Image credit: © Sandra Mikolasch)

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.

Stephanie Pappas
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the world of human and animal behavior, as well as paleontology and other science topics. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and poked hot lava with a stick in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from East Tennessee, the global center for salamander diversity. Follow Stephanie on Google+.