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Parrots prefer to video-call than watch videos, study finds
The parrots enjoyed vocalising with and mirroring their online friends.
The findings could lead to an ‘animal internet’.

A new study has suggested that pet parrots might prefer to video-call each other, rather than watching pre-recorded videos of other birds.

Researchers say that this could mean that these clever birds can identify the difference between live and pre-recorded content.

The project, led by animal-computer interaction specialists from University of Glasgow, involved nine parrots receiving tablet devices to use. It aimed to explore the potential for video calls to stimulate the birds’ social lives, and prevent loneliness.

The parrots and their caregivers, were given tablet devices which had large bright buttons, featuring contact images of other birds in the study. The birds were then trained to make calls on Facebook Messenger by ringing a bell when they wanted to interact.

The study began with an online ‘meet-and-greet’ session, where the birds were introduced to each other over video chat.

The parrots were then each given open-access to the system, across 12 sessions. They could make two calls each session, for a maximum of three hours.

In six of these sessions, the birds were put in touch with another online parrot for a chat. However, for the other six, they were connected to a pre-recorded video of their bird contacts.

Their care-keepers then recorded their reactions.

Throughout a six-month study, parrots frequently chose to start video calls with other online birds. In fact, they called other birds more often than watching pre-recorded footage.

The parrots initiated 65 calls during the ‘live’ phase of the study, but only 40 calls when it connected them with pre-recorded content.

They also seemed to become more engaged with the video calls. Despite a library of pre-recorded content, they spent much longer on live calls, vocalising with and mirroring other birds.

Birds often flew away from the recorded videos, or refused to play them altogether.

In total the birds spent 561 minutes on live calls, and just 142 minutes watching recorded content.

The findings suggest that parrots are capable of distinguishing pre-recorded content from live calls, and much prefer the latter.

Dr Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, the lead author from University of Glasgow, said: “The internet holds a great deal of potential for giving animals agency to interact with each other in new ways, but the systems we build to help them do that need to be designed around their specific needs and physical and mental abilities.

“Studies like this could help to lay the foundations of a truly animal-centred internet.”

The full study can be found in here .

Image © Shutterstock

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Special imports digital service set to change

News Story 1
 From Monday, 15 July, Special Import Certificate (SIC) applications will only be accepted via the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD's) new special imports digital service.

The original online special import scheme will be decommissioned. The VMD says that the new service is easier to use, more secure and reliable, and meets accessibility legislation.

The VMD is urging veterinary surgeons who have not yet signed up for the new service to do so before 15 July. The new digital service can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
RCVS course explains concerns process

A free, online course from the RCVS Academy has been launched, designed to clarify RCVS' concerns procedure.

The content will give veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses a better understanding of the process, and what they can expect if a concern is raised about them. It includes details of common concerns.

The interactive resource has been developed in collaboration with Clare Stringfellow, case manager in the RCVS Professional Conduct Team.

Ms Stringfellow said: "We appreciate that concerns can be very worrying, and we hope that, through this course, we can give vets and nurses a better understanding of the process and how to obtain additional support."

The course can be accessed via the RCVS Academy. Users are encouraged to record their learning for CPD.