Monk parakeets have “voiceprints” just like humans

A very interesting discovery as reported by Salon:

Previously, it was thought that these birds introduced themselves to other monk parakeets with a sort of "catchphrase" that distinguished their identity. However, after running the vocalizations collected in this study through the program, a team led by Simeon Smeele, a doctoral student at Aarhus University in Denmark, found that the birds actually had "voiceprints" like humans that identify themselves in the group. Read more.


Parrots Taught to Video Call Each Other Become Less Lonely

Parrot on tabletThis interesting article from The Guardian makes a lot of sense!

Pet parrots that are allowed to make video calls to other birds show signs of feeling less isolated, according to scientists.

The study, which involved giving the birds a tablet that they could use to make video calls, found that they began to engage in more social behaviour including preening, singing and play. The birds were given a choice of which “friend” to call on a touchscreen tablet and the study revealed that the parrots that called other birds most often were the most popular choices.

Dr Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, of the University of Glasgow and a co-author of the research, said that video calls had helped many people feel less isolated in the pandemic. She added: “There are 20 million parrots living in people’s homes in the USA, and we wanted to explore whether those birds might benefit from video calling too. If we gave them the opportunity to call other parrots, would they choose to do so, and would the experience benefit the parrots and their caregivers?”

Their analysis, based on more than 1,000 hours of footage of 18 pet parrots, suggested that there were, indeed, benefits for the birds. In the wild, many species of parrots live in large flocks, but as pets tend to be kept alone or in a small group. Isolation and boredom can cause birds to develop psychological problems, which can manifest as rocking, pacing back and forth, or self-harming behaviours such as feather-plucking.

Video calling could reproduce some of the social benefits of living in a flock, the scientists suggested.

The parrots were recruited from users of Parrot Kindergarten, an online coaching and educational programme for parrots and their owners. The birds first learned to ring a bell and then touch a photo of another bird on the screen of a tablet device to trigger a call to that bird, with the assistance of their owners. In total the birds made 147 deliberate calls to each other during the study, while owners took detailed notes on the birds’ behaviour and the researchers later reviewed the video footage.

Dr Jennifer Cunha, of Northeastern University and co-founder of Parrot Kindergarten, said that the parrots “seemed to grasp” that they were engaging with other birds because their behaviour mirrored that seen during real-life interactions. “All the participants in the study said they valued the experience, and would want to continue using the system with their parrots in the future,” she said.

“I was quite surprised at the range of different behaviours,” said Hirskyj-Douglas. “Some would sing, some would play around and go upside down, others would want to show another bird their toys.”

The team’s paper is published in Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Street Cat Bob

Bob the catMost of the 1,100 monuments scattered around London are dedicated to individuals who carried out heroic deeds in the service of the Crown. Others applaud the achievements of persons in the fields of arts or sciences. However, there is one unorthodox statue dedicated to a furry, famous Londoner who once walked on four legs.

In the south-east corner of a park in the borough of Islington, lies a life-size bronze of a cat named Bob, who rests perched on a stack of books. This feline was immortalized in a series of novels written by his adopted owner, James Bowen. These two individuals were able to look after one another, and in turn, their lives became the stuff of legend.

Read more here on Atlas Obscura


Tracking Your Dog's Fitness With a Smart Collar

News about the ability to track your dog's fitness was announced at this years Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. A French company called Invoxia announced a "smart" dog collar that can measure and tracks a dog's health through sensors and other tech. It can not only monitor health, it also keeps track of their whereabouts and warns of any potential health issues that come up. This is done by measuring respiratory and heart rate. It also has WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth to track the physical location of your pet.

Listen to the podcast here, thanks to USAToday:

The Most Popular People Names for Dogs

Dog in carseatThis fun read from the Washington Post will get you curious about your pet's name.

If you meet a Kevin, he’s probably a human. Bella, Luna or Max, though? Don’t be so sure. Some names are used for people. Some names are used for dogs. And then there are the Jacks and Rileys and Angels of the world, who live in the magical place where people and dogs overlap.

Our friends at the Atlantic recently noticed the trend of dogs named after humans, and we wondered: How common are dogs with human names? To find out, we explored the names of 61,000 dogs available for adoption on the website Petfinder, and compared them with baby names in Social Security Administration records stretching back to 1880.

How human is your dog’s name?

As it turns out, about 1 in 7 Petfinder dogs had names that also are commonly given to babies. But within this subset of dogs named after humans, there’s enormous variation in the popularity of certain monikers. For example, only about 1 in 2,000 of the Petfinder pooches were named Kevin. But other names — Bonnie, Jackson, Hunter — had substantial overlap between babies and pups.

Many current favorites for dogs such as Daisy and Charlie were in the top 50 baby names around 1880, the earliest year of baby names in the Social Security Administration’s data. But at the other end of the spectrum, the three most common people names for adoptable dogs are extremely au courant: Bella, Max and Luna all reached the height of their popularity for babies on or after 2010.

To verify that these trends weren’t specific to shelter dogs, we checked our findings against the names of dogs living with their owners in New York City and Seattle, where owners register their dogs’ names to get pet licenses. Bella, Max and Luna were the top three dog names across both the shelter dogs and the NYC/Seattle dogs.

Some dogs have human names because they were, well, named after humans. A Labrador-shepherd mix in California was named Michael after a kennel worker. Others got their names because they matched specific characters from pop culture. The Mary pictured at the top of our story was named after a similarly cross-eyed character in a Jethro Tull song. Michael and David in Oklahoma were rescued together as strays, which earned them names from the 1987 film “The Lost Boys.”

In some cases, a human name can help clinch an adoption. Leslie Granger, president and CEO of the animal welfare organization Bideawee, said, “We often hear from adopters that they felt an instant connection, because the dog shares a name with their mom or best friend.”

“We give human personality traits to our dogs and cats,” said Granger, who herself has cats named Maximus and Harry. “They’re more a part of our family now, so human names are more fitting.”





15 of NYC’s Most Famous Animals

This fun article in Untapped NY lists some of NYC's favorite animals. Some you may want to track down and others ... maybe not so much! Some are long gone and others you can still see today. Here is the list:

1. Jim, Harry, and Phil, the Peacocks of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

2. Cats of the Algonquin Hotel

3. The Mandarin Duck of Central Park

4. Staten Island Chuck

5. Pizza Rat

6. The Monk Parrots of Green-Wood Cemetery

7. Pattycake the Gorilla

8. Topsy the Elephant

9. Little Rockefeller the Christmas Tree Owl

10. Gus the Polar Bear

11. Pale Male, the Red-Tailed Hawk

12. Hattie the Elephant

13. The Snowy Owl of Central Park

14. The Ghost Dog of Prospect Park

15. The Famous Bridge Falcons