Parrots are superb impersonators. They are particularly gifted when it comes to mimicing sounds they hear. The orange-fronted conure, the subject of a recent study of parrot imitation abilities, is thought to have evolved this mimicing ability to communicate with specific birds in other flocks.
The study, by Thorsten Balsby from the University of Aarhus, Denmark and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen, examined conures and discovered that when their calls were imitated, the birds responded with more gusto and faster than they did if they did not hear an imitation of their call. This mimicking served to establis a sort of conversation between individuals in different flocks.
Photo © Thorsten Balsby / University of Aarhus.