Mornings in the lab are quiet. Griffin and Arthur eat their breakfasts—Griffin on the top of his cage, Arthur inside, fastidiously choosing the tastiest parts of fruits and vegetables and tossing the rest to the floor. We’ll start doing experimental sessions sometime soon, asking the parrots questions and collecting data to learn more about how they think and see the world. But for now, we are all relaxed. Griffin has climbed to a perch and is dozing, shoulders hunched and one foot coiled up into his feathers, perhaps to keep it warm; Arthur is running his beak through his feathers, grooming and straightening.
The Pepperberg Lab, founded by Dr. Irene Pepperberg, is the home of The Alex Foundation, and of our two African Grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus), Griffin and Arthur (Wart for short, in the style of King Arthur). In the lab, we run experiments that examine the cognitive abilities of this species of parrot. We know that these animals think—but how do they think? How do they perceive the world? Just how “smart” are they? Animal cognition is a fairly new and engaging field of research; every species thinks, acts, and perceives in ways best suited to its particular evolutionary history. At the lab, we perform research that we hope will expand the base of knowledge establishing the cognitive and communicative abilities of parrots as intelligent beings.
This blog will have periodic postings about animal cognition and intelligence, including commentary on the latest research in the field, as well as updates on happenings here at the lab. We hope you will join us as we ask and answer questions about living things.
Griffin is done dozing, and is saying “Want a nut!” repeatedly in his raspy, beaky voice. Time to start the day.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://alexfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/megan-011.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Megan McGrath is a Biology student at Brandeis University and has worked with the Pepperberg Lab for several years. She is pursuing a career in research on animal cognition, communication, and perception.[/author_info] [/author]