Superb Parrot fast-track habitat renewal

Superb parrot

Superb parrotSaving the Superb Parrot

The Superb Parrot is under threat of losing much of it’s natural habitat because of climate change and the Authorities in New South Wales are stepping up the efforts in saving this endangered species.

The Aim

The aim of the project is to create 200 new artificial hollows in standing trees across the region. The hollows will help provide new habitat for the vulnerable superb parrot, which has lost much of its habitat including hollow-bearing trees.  The superb parrots nest in groups and are not very territorial. This means that up to 10 hollows can be put in a small area to suit the needs of this bird.

Road kills from grain feeding is also deemed as a major factor for the extension of this bird. Most suitable tall trees with hollows are near the road and as this parrot species is slow in taking off when in danger, road kills are a common sitting.  The new artificially created hollows are in trees as far as possible from the road but still in areas rich in vegetation and feeding grounds to sustain the groups.

This targeted approach will ensure that the superb parrot and some other native birds can create new habitats much in safer areas much quicker.

The Method

The natural development of hollows is a very long process. It can take up to 100 years for a small hollow to develop naturally and 200 to 300 years for large hollows that will support larger birds like cockatoos and owls.

The hollow technique was introduced in the region after Hollows for Habitat forums were held in Dubbo and Orange in recent months and Mr Callan believe this project will benefit some other species too.

“Superb parrots are threatened at both a state level and federal level,” said Mr Callan, the project officer.

To follow the differnt project of saving the Superb parrot visit: www.environment.nsw.gov.au

 

The smartest parrot is an African Grey called Griffin

Smartest parrot - Griffin

GrifThe Smartest Parrot – Griffin

Griffin is the smartest parrot and works together on various research project with Dr. Irene Pepperberg. In this latest study Griffin was able to pick up a triangle from an obscure shape. In the experiment Griffin looks at a Kanizsa triangle, which is an optical illusion made up of three Pac-Man figures facing each other and he doesn’t just see three figures covering each other. He sees a triangle. To many of us this may not sound significant but let’s not forget that Griffin is a parrot and his visual system is vastly different from that of humans. This study shows that parrots may process visual information in a similar way to humans and that Griffin is certainly one of the smartest parrots.

“There are 300 million years of evolution that separate us,” Pepperberg said. “Just anatomically, Griffin’s brain is very different from ours. Despite that, these data suggests he is solving these critical survival problems – like avoiding predators and finding food – in ways that are very similar to those of humans.”

The experiment not only reveals how smart parrots are but could also offer important guidance for fields like artificial intelligence.
“This is important, particularly in the context of our understanding of deep learning,” Nakayama said (Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology). “These algorithms can do astonishing things, but they’re very brittle in the sense that they can make terrible mistakes that you and I would never make. We’ve never really tested a human or a machine with this type of test… and if this animal with relatively primitive brain can perform this task, there may be something here that needs to be explored.

Griffin was also able to identify other occluded shapes such as – one, two, three, four, five and six-sided Kanizsa figures.

The preparation

The first step in testing whether Griffin could recognise occluded shapes was for Dr Pepperberg to teach him to recognise shapes in the first place. To do that, Irene and students used wooden blocks and thought Griffin shapes based on the number of corners. For example when shown a square, he eventually would respond by saying “four”.

Whilst Griffin was trained using 3-D wooden shapes the obscure shapes were simply printed on paper. The ability for him to recognise the Kanizsa shape suggests that Griffin understood the relationship between the two different methods.

“He was able to recognise that this flat piece of paper represented the square block on which he was trained,” Pepperberg said. The experiment was performed with 1 – 6 corners per object and different colours, sizes and objects were used and a trial was never repeated twice.

Stimulating

This is just one example of how smart our feathered friends are and emphasises on the need to keep them occupied all the time, as well as physically and mentally challenged. Always make sure that your bird has access to foraging, puzzle, preening and shredding parrot toys. Also do make sure to rotate the toys on a weekly basis. Novelty (interest) wears out and if using the same toy over and over your parrot may lose interest.

This article was first published in the journal Cognition.