Researcher Decodes Parrot Songs And Discovers The Sweetest Thing

All parents may relate to this

The chirps and squawks of a parrot’s call may appear to the untrained ear to be just a random series of notes among the symphony of sounds in the areas where they inhabit. But it is not at all the case.

In addition to having significance, some of the cries made by parrots could not be more significant to them.

Humans only needed to do a little decoding to figure that out.


It has long been known that parrots kept in captivity pick up on and replicate the noises they hear, but Dr. Karl Berg wanted to discover how that process works in the wild. In doing so, he focused on green-rumped parrotlets, a talkative species of parrot that is native to Venezuela’s savannas and woods.

Dr. Berg discovered that wild parrots not only pick up new songs and noises, but they also seem to learn one crucial sound in particular.


Dr. Berg needed to create blended green-rumped parrotlet families to test the hypothesis that whether young parrots acquired noises from their parents or if they simply inherited them as instinct. He successfully turned the wild parrots in his study into foster parents by covertly swapping eggs from the nesting boxes they used.

Dr. Berg observed the nesting boxes while using recording equipment as the parrot parents hatched, reared, and—most importantly—sang to their young.

It’s interesting to note that when the foster children started singing for themselves, Dr. Berg discovered that they sounded more like their foster parents than their real parents. They had been studying! What’s even more amazing is that each baby’s learnt song was somewhat different from the others, making it a distinguishing characteristic.

In essence, the song they heard from their parents was their very own name, to put it another way.

All throughout a parrot’s life, these names play a crucial part in identifying them and letting them recognize when another parrot is speaking to them.

After all, unique identifiers are useful.


The songs of these parrots resonating in the forests of Venezuela take on new significance in light of Dr. Berg’s study decoding their cries and how they are taught. They are tuneful representations of the love and care they got from their parents rather than merely noises hardwired by instinct.

What’s a name worth? A loving legacy left behind for both humans and green-rumped parrotlets.