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Is Your Parrot Self Aware or Not

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Is Your Parrot Self Aware or Not

Postby Wolf » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:19 am

I was not really sure where to place this as it could easily have been at home in the General Parrot Care section as here, but due to the highly controversial nature of the topic of self awareness itself I thought it better placed here.

The theory of self awareness is a recent one only dating back to the 1970's as far as I know and as such its validity is often contested even when it is applied only to humans. There have only been a limited amount of studies with animals in regards to the topic of self awareness. One of the tests that has been used is the mirror test, but there is the possibility that it may not be very accurate, at least by itself, because it may not be measuring anything more than visual perception and that is at least to some degree dependent upon the structure of the eye.

I believe that self awareness in animals is much more common than most people believe, but for this topic I am specifically referring to our parrots and so far the only avian species that has been judged by science to be self aware is the magpie. I still believe that my parrots are self aware.

I an providing a link here to help define what self awareness is and how to possibly apply it to your own parts to help you to decide if you think your parrot is self aware or not.
https://philosophy.columbian.gwu.edu/si ... nimals.pdf

Try and have a little fun with this one.
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Re: Is Your Parrot Self Aware or Not

Postby liz » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:27 am

Rambo came to me knowing that he was Rambo. He can look in a mirror and know he is looking at himself. He will even talk to himself by talking to his image.

When Myrtles feathers grew back she would land on the couch with a big mirror behind it. I thought is was a fluke the first time but she repeatedly said "hello Myrtle" every time she landed there.
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Re: Is Your Parrot Self Aware or Not

Postby Pajarita » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:59 am

I don't think that parrots are self-aware although I think that it would be great if we had studies done on the more intelligent species. The reason why I think they are not is that, if they were, they would not fall in love with a mirror image -and we all know they do this all the time. I also don't think that there is any introspection going on in their thought processes - they feel, they react. Their feelings do change (from fear to trust, from indifference to love, etc) but not through any kind of reasoning because, if that was the case, getting an abused bird to trust you would not take the HUGE amount of work it does.
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Re: Is Your Parrot Self Aware or Not

Postby seagoatdeb » Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:46 pm

I think they are self aware, and some more so than others. They do reason, i have seen Gaugan, work at knocking a small glass treat container off a stand, figuring out where to place her beak and how to use her body to knock it down. She will plan and figure out how to get at anything she wants or how to get a person to do what she wants. Also, Gauagan knows she is looking at herself in a mirror. I can remember the day she realized it as she sat on my shoulder. She realized I was in the mirror and she was too.

Parrots do not reason within the small perimeters such as, "not through any kind of reasoning because, if that was the case, getting an abused bird to trust you would not take the HUGE amount of work it does.." Even abused kids put into a new home do not reason like that, they take a lot of time to develop trust. Learning trust again is a long process for many animals.

Here is a link that talks about parrots reasoning, in terms of being able to take logical leaps, that has so far only been attributed to humans and apes. http://www.livescience.com/14708-parrot ... nking.html
Last edited by seagoatdeb on Thu Jun 02, 2016 3:26 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Is Your Parrot Self Aware or Not

Postby Wolf » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:11 pm

I have been wanting to start a topic like this about parrot awareness/ intelligence for quite some time, but as I was researching on the topic it became pretty clear that all of my sources agreed for the most part that parrots are intelligent and to nearly the same degree. But it became pretty apparent right from the start that the issue of self awareness was highly controversial and you can find documentation that supports self awareness in both animals and in humans and then the next scientific document disputes everything put forth in the first source and this holds true for self awareness in both humans and animals.

This has the potential to be a great topic or it is one that can quickly turn into an argument. Argument which is kept to a non personal level is OK and is just a debate, but let us try to keep any personal references about what another person says out of the topic and let's try to avoid any personal confrontation. Just seeing one of those comments that have led the wrong way in the past and mentioning it so that we can take this in another direction.
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Re: Is Your Parrot Self Aware or Not

Postby Michael » Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:33 am

I have not seen any strong indication that parrots are self aware. They are too distantly related to the mammal groups that are for it to be a homologous trait. In other words, if they are, it would be an independently developed trait through convergent evolution.

There's no reason that they have to be self aware in order to be highly intelligent in other ways. Humans are all caught up on the self-awareness concept cause they have it. Doesn't mean that it is necessary for a different kind of intelligence.

As far as I know, dump a parrot in front of a mirror and it acts like it met another of it's species just like any other dumb old bird. Could be that all this excitement is over a self awareness discovery but there is nothing to support that.
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Re: Is Your Parrot Self Aware or Not

Postby Pajarita » Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:59 am

Oh, I don't know, Wolf. There are always detractors for every single proven theory but I think that, when it comes to the majority of the scientific community, it's pretty much accepted that there are species of animals that are self-aware... only thing is that (at least so far) they haven't found that parrots are.

It's a real hard subject to debate because, for one thing, self-awareness is easy to confuse with other thought processes and, for another, we can't but regard our animals subjectively and this inevitably ends up with us endowing them with human thoughts and emotions that are not really there (and there is nothing more 'human' than self-awareness, right?). Owners are just not good observers -which is why there are protocols to be followed when it comes to any scientific study- and given the fact that there are no studies or even observations made by trained scientists on this subject, all we can do is give our own uninformed opinion which is not really worth much from a scientific point of view. But, for what my opinion is worth, I have never observed a parrot recognizing itself in a mirror or became aware of them analyzing their feelings or decisions (and, to tell the truth, I have no idea what I would be looking for either!).
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Re: Is Your Parrot Self Aware or Not

Postby seagoatdeb » Thu Jun 02, 2016 1:24 pm

When Gaugan was still a juvenille parrot, she chewed up her favorite toy in her cage and i removed the "bits" For days she looked at where her toy was. After that, the ony toys she chewed up were outside her cage. She is still like that 17 and a half years later. That is some kind of reasoning/learning.

We may never be able to show self awarness, in the way we think of it for a mammal, but parrots have long memories, and longer than people in a lot of cases, so they have lots to their intelligence. its just my opinion, but i believe in the future they may find all birds are much more intelligent than they thought before.
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Re: Is Your Parrot Self Aware or Not

Postby liz » Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:49 pm

Myrtle learned like Gaugan. While on my shoulder I told her to look at Ma and Myrtle. She understood. I just did not expect her to tell herself hello.
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Re: Is Your Parrot Self Aware or Not

Postby seagoatdeb » Thu Jun 02, 2016 6:38 pm

As the parrot ages they learn more and more. Gaugan at this age understands most of what i say to her. She may not be able to understand every word but she get the "gist" of it. i also think she may sense emotions, and/or be aware of body motions, etc.... there is some way she just "gets" things so easy.

Sunny is slowly, learning and/or becoming more intelligent. he is starting to "get" me more and i understand him a lot more.

About the mirror, at first Gaugan would just look at the image in the mirror, and after a while realized it did not react back to her. The day she realized, it was some sort of reflection of us, she was watching me as i moved my hand, applying some makeup. She looked at the mirror, she looked at me, and she got it. After that i would go into the bathroom and put on a hat with her watching, and she would get excited. We used to play that way a lot, i found it exciting and experimented a lot with her perception, because our lovebird, pecked at his image in his mirror as did the budgie and conure. It was only Gaugan who i ever saw make that kind of connection. When I put Gaguans harness on her, we went to look in the mirror before we went outside. Those of you that have never had a parrrot make a recognization like that probaly didnt work with your parrot on your shoulder, looking in a mirror. I am not saying it is the same recognition we have, but it is somewhere equal to what a very young child may when they "get" it. I have watched when a child "gets" it too.
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