Animal Cognition

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 377–391

Grey parrot numerical competence: a review


DOI: 10.1007/s10071-006-0034-7

Cite this article as:
Pepperberg, I.M. Anim Cogn (2006) 9: 377. doi:10.1007/s10071-006-0034-7


The extent to which humans and nonhumans share numerical competency is a matter of debate. Some researchers argue that nonhumans, lacking human language, possess only a simple understanding of small quantities, generally less than four. Animals that have, however, received some training in human communication systems might demonstrate abilities intermediate between those of untrained nonhumans and humans. Here I review data for a Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus) that has been shown to quantify sets of up to and including six items (including heterogeneous subsets) using vocal English labels, to comprehend these labels fully, and to have a zero-like concept. Recent research demonstrates that he can also sum small quantities. His success shows that he understands number symbols as abstract representations of real-world collections, and that his sense of number compares favorably to that of chimpanzees and young human children.


ParrotNumerical abilityCognition

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrandeis UniversityWalthamUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyHarvard University, William James Hall, Vision Science CenterCambridgeUSA