Problem solving skills in young yellow-crowned parakeets (Cyanoramphus auriceps)
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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