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Mental Stimulation


Dr. Pepperburg continues her studies into animal intelligence with another African Grey named Griffin.  Here is an interesting video comparing Griffin's responses to those of very young children:




Birds are very intelligent. Studies have shown that they have the intellectual abilities of a 3 - 5 year old child.

There was an amazing African Grey parrot named Alex that changed many people's perspective on the intelligence of animals.  Alex could correctly identify 50 different shapes, recognize numbers up to six, distinguish seven colors, and understand concepts such as bigger, smaller, same, and different.  Check out this video to see Alex demonstrating some of his amazing abilities while working with researcher Dr. Irene Pepperburg:


In the wild, parrots are challenged mentally every day by the activities of finding food and avoiding predators. By being part of a flock they also have to be able to interact and communicate with their flock members as well as participate in cooperative activities. Living in our homes we have taken many of these challenges and have made their lives too easy.

Because ours birds are so smart, we need to make sure that we help them meet their need for daily mental stimulation. We can do this by giving them new opportunities for exploration as well as exposure to new situations and new people. Some specific suggestions include:

  • Providing them with a wide variety of toys including:
    • foraging toys
    • destructible toys
    • puzzle/manipulative toys
    • teach & learn toys
  • Rotating and changing out toys weekly so they don't become bored.
  • Playing interactive games with your bird
  • Introducing new foods in new ways.
  • Training birds to learn new words, phrases and songs.
  • Talking to your birds in context.
  • Training your bird to do tricks.
  • Introducing your bird to new environments and people by taking your bird on outings.

If you think creatively you can make your bird's environment and daily experience interesting, challenging and fun !

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