Scientists find that parrots love playing tablet games

Parrots have the ability to ‘play’ games on a touchscreen device. — AFP Relaxnews

A team of scientists has demonstrated the interest that parrots, particularly intelligent birds, can show for mobile applications. Their study examined how tablet games could help to better understand the intelligence, preferences and behaviour of parrots of different species, while opening up new perspectives for the design of animal-friendly technologies.

In a study titled ‘No More Angry Birds’, researchers at Northeastern University in the USA investigated the touch-based interactions between parrots and tablets, highlighting the birds’ unique behaviour and ability to interact with modern technology.

Endowed with advanced cognitive abilities, parrots are perfectly capable of operating touchscreens using their tongues. The study, which involved some 20 birds, recorded all their tactile interactions with the devices, with the parrots regularly rewarded with treats when they achieved their goals. The aim of the game was to get them to press on coloured discs appearing on the screen, and the majority of them proved very receptive to the task in hand.

Unsurprisingly, parrots are slower and less precise than humans, but it was found that they didn’t tap with their tongues at random, and genuinely played the game. Most of them repeatedly tapped the same target at high speed. Finally, the birds also appeared to tap a target and then immediately back off, as if the task was over, before homing in on the next one.

All in all, this study shows that touchscreen games provide pet parrots with an unsuspected form of entertainment. One day, the development of software specially designed for them could potentially help to further stimulate these birds in their daily lives. – AFP Relaxnews

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