, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 39-46
Date: 29 Jun 2011

Context-related vocalizations in African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus)

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Abstract

A few animal species are capable of vocal learning. Parrots are well known for their vocal imitation abilities. In this study, we investigated whether African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) emit specific vocalizations in specific contexts. We first described the vocal repertoire and its ontogenesis of four captive grey parrots. After a comparison with vocalizations emitted by wild and other captive African grey parrots, we observed that only three call categories were shared by all grey parrots populations, suggesting that isolated populations of parrots develop population-specific calls. Then, we artificially provoked ten different contexts and recorded vocalizations of four captive grey parrots in these situations. Parrots predominantly emitted call categories in some contexts: distress, protestation, alarm, asking (i.e. emitted when a bird wanted something from an experimenter) and contact calls. These results suggest that some calls are learned and can be used in specific contexts.