Monday, September 10, 2007

very sad

Alex has died at 31:
But last week Alex, an African Grey parrot, died, apparently of natural causes, said Dr. Irene Pepperberg, a comparative psychologist at Brandeis University and Harvard who studied and worked with the parrot for most of its life and published reports of his progress in scientific journals. The parrot was 31.

Now, many parrots are kept under less than ideal conditions, and die prematurely. African Grey parrots in captivity should live twice as long. Alex always showed signs of being stressed, for example, his feather picking. As a wild-caught bird, I think Alex was less suited to being a research subject than perhaps the two domestic Greys Pepperberg has more recently been using.

I do hope I can avoid losing any of my Greys at this young an age - I certainly have the expectation that they would even outlive me. That said, Alex has done much to further our understanding of what birds are capable of cognitively speaking - between his language skills and the problem-solving abilities displayed by corvids, we have a whole new appreciation for "bird brains."

Be in peace, Alex.

Update: Reading more about Alex, it appears that he may have been a domestically bred bird after all, though I had read before that he was wild-caught. Still, hopefully birds Griffin and Wart will prove to be less stressed out as research subjects than Alex obviously was at times.

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