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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Come Fly With Me!: Alex The Gifted Parrot

Alex was no ordinary parrot, in fact his cognitive abilities and amazing intelligence has astonished his owner Irene Pepperberg and researchers for 34 years. Alex was found dead in his cage on Friday morning.
Alex was an African Grey parrot which is a breed of parrot with great charm and character. He has amazed Irene and his researchers with his qualities of being able to count to "6" and identify colors among many other amazing achievements. The following video with Alex and his owner Irene Pepperberg and Alan Alda is a real treat and will certainly speak for itself.

Associated Press: Updated: 10:47 a.m. ET Sept. 11, 2007
WALTHAM, Mass. - A gifted parrot that could count to six, identify colors and even express frustration with repetitive scientific trials has died after 30 years of helping researchers better understand the avian brain.
The death of Alex, an African Grey parrot, left scientists at Brandeis University feeling as if they'd lost a colleague.
"It's devastating to lose an individual you've worked with pretty much every day for 30 years," scientist Irene Pepperberg told The Boston Globe. "Someone was working with him 8 to 12 hours every day of his life."
Alex's advanced language and recognition skills revolutionized the understanding of the avian brain.
After Pepperberg bought Alex from an animal shop in 1973, the parrot learned enough English to identify 50 different objects, seven colors, and five shapes.
He could count up to six, including zero, was able to express desires, including his frustration with the repetitive research.
He also occasionally instructed two other parrots at the lab to "talk better" if they mumbled, though it wasn't clear if he was simply mimicking researchers.
Pepperberg said Alex hadn't reached his full cognitive potential and was demonstrating the ability to take distinct sounds from words he knew and combine them to form new words. Just last month he pronounced the word "seven" for the first time.
The cause of Alex's death was unknown. The African Grey parrot's average life span is 50 years, Pepperberg said.
She said Alex was discovered dead in his cage Friday morning. Pepperberg said she waited to release the news until Monday so grieving researchers could get over the shock and talk about it.
Pepperberg said the last time she saw Alex on Thursday, they went through their goodnight routine, in which she told him it was time to go in the cage and said: "You be good, I love you. I'll see you tomorrow."
Alex responded, "You'll be in tomorrow."

Here is another absolutely wonderful video of a lady with her African Grey Parrot appearing as a guest on a televison show showing off her wonderfully intelligent pet parrot. You just have to see this one!

click above

The African grey parrot has got to be one of the most charming parrots. The African grey parrot has a wonderful character, a combination of intelligence and charm. African grey parrots have been kept as pets for over 4000 years. The Egyptians are thought to be the first to keep the African grey parrot as pets, as depicted in their hieroglyphics. The Greeks also highly valued the African grey parrot as pets, as did the Romans who kept these intelligent birds in highly ornate cages. The tradition of keeping the African grey parrot continued with King Henry VIII keeping one as a pet. Today, the African grey parrot is still kept as a prized pet.
The African Grey Parrot.Com

I am sure Alex will be missed by all those who cherished him.