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Beware the use of fowl language: Tell it to the birds — and they will tell it right back to you

A 22-month old Israeli parrot, has learnt to say, in pitch-perfect Hebrew, “Don’t go out! There is corona! It’s dangerous!”

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2020, 08.33 AM IST
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Reuters
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Overhearing her human home-sharers discussing the pathogen, Luca has learnt to say, “Don’t go out! There is corona! It’s dangerous!”
It’s not just world leaders — starting with PM Narendra Modi who has drawn a ‘Lakshman rekha’ for locked-down India and rebutted fake news about newspapers being spreaders of disease — who are warning people about the dangers of the coronavirus. Overhearing her human home-sharers discussing the pathogen, Luca, a 22-month old Israeli parrot, has learnt to say, in pitch-perfect Hebrew, “Don’t go out! There is corona! It’s dangerous!” Israel, which has over 1,600 cases of the infection, has started an awareness campaign in Hebrew and Arabic to alert people about the dangers of Covid-19.

It seems that talking birds of many species, particularly parrots, parakeets and budgerigars, are displaying cognitive skills that are far from being bird-brained. In an experiment, Alex, a grey parrot who had an English vocabulary of 100 words, demonstrated that he could comprehend categorisation, like ‘same and different’, and ‘bigger and smaller’. On being shown knitwear or a wooden block, he would correctly answer ‘wool’, or ‘wood’. Disco, who had millions of followers on his YouTube channel, could mouth — or, rather, beak — sentences like “What seems to be the problem, Officer? I’m not a crook, my name is Disco, and I’m a parakeet”. As Luca and his fine-feathered ilk have shown, when the occasion arises, birds can talk turkey with the best of them.

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