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Sunday, June 6, 2010

A cockatoo rocks it

A couple of weeks ago, I talked a bit about my clients life with her cockatoo, Buddy. I touched briefly on the way that Buddy will interact with me, and the world that exists outside of her cage. She is receptive to all sorts of stimuli including the activity of other birds that she observes out the large window in her view - and the tonal variations in my voice, body language and movement, and she'll respond in kind. Interestingly enough, she responds to music too. Buddy's owner, Marlene will leave a radio set on a timer to come on at various times of day in her absence. During the last block of time that I cared for her, some music started to play in a segment of a news story on NPR. Buddy immediately took notice, perked up and cocked her head to the side. The spontaneous music seemed to elicit exaggaterated movement on her part and when I started to bop around and dance a little, Buddy began to get more excited, vocalize and do the same. She seems to recognize and associate the movement with music.

In the book, Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin talks about how the brains of animals and humans differ - and how they are alike. The renowned animal scientist also touched on Dr. Irene Pepperberg's work with an African gray parrot, Alex. Some amazing discoveries have been made about what is known now about the way these birds' brains are wired for language - both receptive and expressive - and cognition. Dr. Pepperberg at one point teamed up with Adena Schachner to study the effects of music on this species.

I am always blown away by the interesting things that animals show us what they are capable of. Earlier today, I saw this video of Snowball, a medium sulphur crested Eleanora cockatoo. He looks like he's having a great time! If nothing else, it will make your day.

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger, a regular Pets contributor to and owner of Professional Pet Sitting, and has extensive experience with animals including dogs, cats, amphibians and of course, birds.

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