Bird brains, top dogs and other animal geniuses

Reports of a parrot that's as smart as a four-year-old child prompt Rob Hastings to celebrate notable non-human thinkers
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The Independent Online

We probably shouldn't tell parrots they have a sense of logic, as they will never stop talking about it.

So, just between us humans at least, it has been discovered that as well as being experts at mimicking voices, parrots are also capable of using logical reasoning to find food.

An African Grey parrot named Awisa, above, demonstrated she could work out where food was by using mental abilities previously only known to be present in primates.

The experiment worked by showing Awisa a walnut being hidden under one cup and a seed under another, before one of the two foods was removed.

On being shown which had been taken away, the bird was able to judge the one that must remain and therefore the right cup to choose to be fed.

This, said researchers writing in the science journal Biology Letters, meant parrots were capable of the same level of reasoning as a four-year-old child.

Awisa follows in the claw prints of various clever creatures who have shown that many qualities we tend to think of as belonging to us alone also exist in the animal kingdom.

Some are more scientifically verifiable than others, of course. In Greece, a dog named Kanellos has secured a reputation for sharp political awareness, by apparently attending every major demonstration held in Athens for the last two years.

Though his legend has been secured by countless photos on his own Facebook page, we suspect Kanellos may not really be as clever as some of these other bona fide intelligent animals.