An African grey parrot's vocal production varies across social context
Colbert-White, Erin Natannie
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Hand-reared African Grey parrots exhibit strong social bonding with their human companions. This experiment examined how one parrot’s vocalizations changed across social context with respect to measures of unit use and content. The subject was videotaped in four social contexts: subject home alone, subject with owner in the room, owner in separate room within hearing range, and owner and experimenter conversing in the same room as subject but ignoring her. Linguistic analysis revealed the subject’s repertoire was 278 units ranging 1-8 words long. Total unit frequency and vocabulary richness (i.e., number of different units used) differed significantly, along with the rankings of the repertoire’s most commonly used units, suggesting the vocalization content differed across context. The subject referred to her own spatial location and that of her owner most frequently in the out of room context, suggesting an adaptation of the wild parrot contact call.