Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pour a Little Latte: Alex, Culest Parrot Ever

I ain't tryin' to waste no liquor. I be lookin' at negroes pourin' liquor on the ground like they crazy. But when someone dies, I might go ahead and pour a little latte. Feel me?

Let's pour a little something for Alex the parrot, who passed away recently at age 31. I didn't know about Alex until learning of his passing, but apparently he's been something of an inspiration and a revelation as possibly the smartest bird on earth.

Of course scientists and others very invested in their own intelligence were still debating whether Alex (Aviation Learning EXperiment) was actually *smart* and comprehending, or just really good at parroting. I wonder the same thing about the kids on TRL. But once you read about Alex's antics there's no debating him being the cutest and coolest (culest?) bird eva...

From his "Accomplishments" section on wiki:

Alex had a vocabulary of about 150 words, but was exceptional in that he appeared to have understanding of what he said. For example, when Alex was shown an object and was asked about its shape, color, or material, he could label it correctly. If asked the difference between two objects, he also answered that, but if there was no difference between the objects, he said “none.” When he was tired of being tested, he would say “I’m gonna go away,” and if the researcher displayed annoyance, Alex tried to defuse it with the phrase, “I’m sorry.” If he said “Wanna banana”, but was offered a nut instead, he stared in silence, asked for the banana again, or took the nut and threw it at the researcher.

That's cool, and then cute comes from the NY Times:

As parrots can, he also picked up one-liners from hanging around the lab, like “calm down” and “good morning.” He could express frustration, or apparent boredom,... As she [Dr. Pepperburg] put him into his cage for the night last Thursday, she recalled, Alex looked at her and said: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”

He was found dead in his cage the next morning, Dr. Pepperberg said.


Brainy Parrot Dies, Emotive To The End
[NY Times]

7 comments:

  1. Reminds my of my green parrot who died a few years ago. Mine wasn't so smart, but he sure loved the Beach Boys...

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  2. He's just piining for the fjords.

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  3. I knew an African Grey (like Alex) named Eric. Turned out Eric was probably a "she", but that bird was *scary* smart. It was freaky. He belonged to a semi-psycho guitar-phenom, the kind that drink too much so they never get famous but play rings around all the well-known people you've ever thought were great. Anyway, Eric fell in love with the guitar-phenom's girl, and whenever the guy would kiss on her, Eric would say "That's MY mommy" and make kissing noises. He also would comment on things you did in such a way as to make your hair stand on end. The Girlfriend swore Eric was just "parroting"... but to tell you the truth, I really don't think so. I've met other parrots... but none like Eric. Who sounds freakishly like Alex....

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  4. Awww that's one of the sweetest things I've heard in a while...

    RIP Alex, fly high wherever you are!

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  5. Rest in pieces....(as in he's probably being served at a chinese restaurant somewhere..lol)

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  6. They say that some parrots have the emotional intellect of a three year old child. Seems this little guy was a hell of alot smarter than that. Shame he didn't have the smarts to ask to see a doctor.

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