Although most varieties of pet birds are capable of learning how to say a handful of words, African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) are especially savvy with language and vocabulary. Some members of the colorful avian species can even address people by name, ask for supper and answer questions -- and then some.
The African grey parrot's skill with words typically surpasses that of different parrots, according to an article on the website for the Charles Paddock Zoo. Certain African grey parrots actually can manage 1,000 vocabulary words or more. Not too shabby.
Not only are some African grey parrots savvy regarding words, some of them even may be able to comprehend the concept of numbers, according to scientist Irene M. Pepperburg's research. African grey parrots may have a grasp of numbers that is similar to that of chimpanzees, aquatic mammals and small children -- think those between the 4 and 6 year age bracket.
Outside of "book smarts," words and numerical understanding, some fans of African grey parrots even indicate that the birds are acutely sensitive to human moods and feelings. They believe that African greys have the ability to react appropriately to various mood-fueled human circumstances, whether sad or happy ones.
Alex the Wonder Parrot
Alex was the name of an African grey parrot known for his sophisticated and extensive vocabulary -- and his somewhat deep understanding of it all. This bird, who passed away in 2007 after decades of individualized studies on the avian mind, was believed to have the ability to tell colors apart -- and point them out using words. He also was believed to be able to understand the sizes of things. If a certain object was smaller or larger than another one, this bird was thought to be able to make the distinction using vocabulary words. Alex displayed an understanding for numbers 0 through 6.
Other Strong Avian Talkers
Although it may be hard to dispute the vocabulary and brainpower of some African greys, they are by no means the only big talkers in the bird world. Some other talented and talkative types of birds include quaker parrots, hill mynas, budgerigars, Indian ringneck parakeets, yellow-crowned amazons, double yellow head Amazons, eclectus parrots and blue-fronted Amazons.
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Psittacus erithacus
- ARKive: African Grey Parrot
- BirdChannel.com: All About African Grey Parrots
- BirdChannel.com: Top 10 Pet African Grey Parrot Questions Answered
- Charles Paddock Zoo: African Grey Parrot
- BirdChannel.com: Best Talking Pet Birds
- The Alex Foundation: Number Comprehension by a Grey Parrot