Problem solving skills in young yellow-crowned parakeets (Cyanoramphus auriceps)
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Despite the long divergent evolutionary history of birds and mammals, early avian and primate cognitive development have many convergent features. Some of these features were investigated with a series of tasks designed to assess human infant development. The tasks were presented to young parakeets to assess their means-end problem solving abilities. Examples of these early skills are: attaining and playing with objects, retrieving rewards through use of a stick or rake, or by pulling in rewards on supports or on the ends of strings. Twelve such tasks were presented to 11 young yellow-crowned parakeets (Cyanoramphus auriceps) to investigate their natural abilities; there was no attempt to train them to do those tasks that they did not spontaneously perform. Six of the birds were parent-raised and five were hand-raised. The birds completed 9 of the 12 tasks, demonstrating all the Piagetian sensorimotor circular reactions, but they failed to hand-watch ("claw-watch"), to stack objects, or to fill a container. Their ordinality on the tasks differed from that of human infants in that locomotion to obtain objects occurred earlier in the avian sequence of development and the mid-level tasks were performed by the two groups of avian subjects in a mixed order perhaps indicating that these abilities may not emerge in any particular order for these birds as they supposedly do for human infants. The hand-raised group needed fewer sessions to complete these means-end tasks.
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