Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Alex, the parrot who burned bright

[LINK] I was very sad to learn of the death of Alex, the gifted African Grey parrot who was known for many things, including being able to count, identify shapes, colors, express emotions, and generally taught the world many things about birds of his kind, along with stirring up controversy over the findings. For example, he seemed to grasp the concept of "zero". His vocabulary included about a hundred words, even one that he made up, "banerry", meaning "apple", because he only knew the words for banana, cherry and grape, and apparently thought the apple was like a cherry banana.

He was 31 years old, but his life expectancy should have been 50-60 years old. They don't yet know what caused his death as he had been pronounced healthy just a week previous. His name was an acronym for A(vian) L(earning) EX(periment)

To learn more about Alex and the research that he was part of, go to The Alex Foundation.
More links:
Wiki entry
PBS Scientific American Frontiers (video)


Lynn@zelleblog said...

I saw a parrot play golf while flipping through the channels the other day- animals are much smarter than people think and always surprise people.

We think we know everything, but then there are these examples of amazing skills.

Like my doggie- she chewed up a toy, but made darn sure it wasnt from China first.

Kay said...

Ah Man! That sucks. I remember seeing Alex on a couple of different TV talk shows. He really impressed me. African Greys are beautiful, intelligent birds.

My friend's Grey would pretend to be the telephone when she would walk out the door in the morning in order to get her to come back. It took her awhile to figure out what was going on.

You'll be missed Alex.