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African Gray Parrot: The clever language genius


They are considered the greatest language talents in the animal world: African gray parrots. But why can these birds learn to speak? And why are they doing this? Image: Shutterstock / Allen.G

The gray parrot: natural talent through and through

A gray parrot living in the wild will not learn human language. But even in this environment, the talent for voice of the feathered journeyman is already apparent. So these birds easily imitate other living things or even machines like a chainsaw. By chance? Not at all: for example, gray parrots create the threatening call of a dangerous forest dweller to unsettle other animals.

If the gray parrot lives with people under one roof, there is a high probability that it will learn to speak after a while. But why is he doing this? He is not entirely unselfish. On the contrary, he pursues very personal goals: he wants to receive attention. And the above-average intelligent gray parrots know exactly how to get what they want.

One word, one goal

The birds do not know exactly what they are telling, as they only parrot scientifically. But the knowledgeable gray parrot knows that the learning effort is worthwhile. Here and there, when the gentleman greets you in the morning, something delicious leaps out.

The question remains, why exactly these species can learn to speak. Information can actually be drawn from a direct comparison with humans. Parrots have a normal vocal organ with slightly fewer muscle groups, but they have an exceptionally thick tongue. And just as their language role models shape certain sounds with their tongues, gray parrots move their tongues when speaking. A certain stroke with this organ is enough and these esteemed colleagues can articulate and repeat themselves.

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