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No. 70: Jul-Aug 1990

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Bird Brain

Alex can name 80 things, tell colors, and even seems to be able to handle a few abstract ideas. Alex is not a chimp or porpoise. Alex is an African grey parrot, who has been living in an avian Sesame Street for 13 years. Parrots are wonderful mimics and pretty bright as birds go. Nevertheless, skeptics scoff at Alex's accomplishments as only the product of long, intense training. Alex can't be too dumb. Once when he couldn't lift a cup covering a tasty nut, he turned to the nearest human assistant and demanded, "Go pick up cup." Who's training whom?

(Stipp, David; "Einstein Bird Has Scientists Atwitter over Mental Feats," Wall Street Journal, May 9, 1990. Cr. J. Covey.)

From Science Frontiers #70, JUL-AUG 1990. � 1990-2000 William R. Corliss