Everyone knows that parrots can "talk," but it's been assumed they only copy what they hear, and don't really communicate. But an African gray parrot named N'kisi has a huge vocabulary, as well as a sense of humor. He uses correct grammar and seems to know what he's saying. He's even telepathic. Warning: If you have a pet bird you love, don't keep him in the kitchen or fumes from your Teflon pans could kill him.
N'kisi uses correct present, past and future tenses, and if he doesn't know the correct tense, he?ll invent one, such as "flied" for "flew." He's been studied by the chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall, who says N'kisi's language is an "outstanding example of interspecies communication." When he saw a photo of her with her chimps, N'kisi said to her, "Got a chimp?"
In an experiment organized by reseacher Rupert Sheldrake, N'kisi and his owner were in separate rooms. Both were filmed as the owner opened envelopes containing images at random. Although he couldn't see them, N'kisi made appropriate remarks about the images three times more often than he could have just by chance. He said, "What ya doing on the phone?" when the owner looked at a photo of a man with a telephone, and "Can I give you a hug?" when she saw a photo of a couple embracing.
Alex Kirby writes in bbcnews.com that fumes given off by the cancer-causing chemicals used to make non-stick frying pans may be killing hundreds of pet birds every year. He quotes Elizabeth Salter-Green, of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, as saying, "Years ago, coal miners took canaries with them down the pits to detect lethal gases. Now, canaries are dying in our kitchens, but no action is being taken about the suspect chemicals."
Birds aren't the only ones getting smarter?our kids are too. Find out why and what death has to do with it on this week's Dreamland. Subscribers: Learn how to build a UFO from someone who's trying to do just that!
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