Animal physiologist Désirée Brucks and Zoologist Auguste von Bayern has recently conduct a fascinating study. The study involved a pair of African grey parrots who had been trained to exchange tokens for food.
The groundbreaking study revealed some interesting facts specifically about African grey parrots. It was found that African greys are willing to help others in need, even though it is a stranger.
This discovery was made when the researchers gave tokens to
a group of African greys and another group, blue-headed macaws, which they could exchange for nuts.
Even though both species were more than willing to exchange tokens with the researchers to receive their nuts, however, only the African greys transferred a token to a neighbour so they could get a treat.
Out of the eight African grey’s, seven spontaneously gave their token away. This is also without having experienced the social setting of the task before. The study also found that when the parrot that was in help was a friend, the helper parrot transferred more tokens.
Wanting to see if the birds would share, the entire lot of tokens was given to only one bird. When the parrot with the tokens saw that his neighbour parrot didn’t receive any tokens, he began to pass some over to him in order for them to buy a walnut.
This type of altruistic behaviour had not been seen with birds ever before.
“Animals often share food, but these birds understand that metal rings can be exchanged for treats, and they share the rings with no promise of reward…This sophisticated behaviour, which requires an understanding of both currency and the needs of others, has only been described in primates before.”