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|To some people the idea of talking with animals seems silly, yet a
handful of scientists have expended extraordinary effort to try to with
individual great apes, one of the best publicized is Francine Patterson's
study of the gorilla called Koko. Dr. Patterson has the distinction of
conducting the longest ongoing study in the field of interspecies
communication; she continues to investigate her gorilla friend after
more than 30 years on the job.
Despite the studies of apes using visual communication (sign language),
there has been little progress with communicating vocally with animals.
One reason is that the anatomy of many creatures is not suited to
duplicate the complex sounds of human speech. Lacking the ability to
vocalize is an impediment.
Birds are animals that naturally use sound to communicate, although
humans have yet to discover the precise meaning for the messages that
birds transmit. Despite some limitations because of their size, many
different birds including crows, ravens, mynah birds, parrots, and a
number of songbirds have the knack for reproducing words from human
speech. Vocal communication between birds and humans is possible
because birds are able to reproduce sounds similar to human speech.
In the past, accounts of talking birds were not accepted as examples of
communications, but there is evidence that the skeptics were wrong. In
ancient writings, there are accounts of birds capable of conversing; of
course, we can't go back a millennium or more to verify such accounts.
In the 1950s, an English researcher, Len Howard, wrote about teaching
songbirds to understand words; she described how she taught one bird
to respond by counting out numbers spoken to the bird in English. In
The Grey Parrot, Wolfgang de Grahl described incidents of birds using
language appropriately. The problem is that investigators have
overlooked the reports, and the result is that the insightful observations
The ability of parrots to use words beyond simply repeating what
they hear is generally unappreciated. I began my work with Arielle in
1992. It took 18 years to arrive at my present understanding based on
reading the literature and my person experimental inquiries. I'm sure
there are other pet owners and parties who are exploring the same
topic. However, there is no organization dealing with birds
communicating using human language, so individuals are left to invent
ways to discuss intelligent speech by parrot-like birds. Those factors
are the problem and a reason for this site.
While I do not claim to be Dr. Doolittle, I have achieved a modest
degree of success communicating with a parrot-like bird. Arielle
illustrates that birds have many abilities that we did not suspect.
Additionally, through speech we humans can learn a great deal about
birds and, perhaps, something about how they think. We may be
surprised to find that they are more like us that we ever considered.
Mankind has arrived at a stumbling point. In order to investigate
meaningful speech by a bird, one has to conceive the possibility that
birds have such an ability. For many people, accepting the idea that
birds possess advanced mental abilities is a point of contention and a
major obstacle to future studies.
|Contact Arielle or Mike, we love to get mail or questions about birds!
Respond to Mike@ParrotSpeech.com
|Use the form below to send a message automatically.
Send your telephone number, IF you wish to converse by telephone (in the U.S.A.).
|Arielle understands speech and speaks thoughtfully using English
words, phrases, and sentences.