October 09, 2003

A parrot after my own heart

Last Sunday, I spent a beautiful fall afternoon walking around Valley Forge National Historical Park with my seven-year-old son Mac and Dick Oehrle, whom I've known since we were undergraduates together.

Dick's daughter once worked as a research assistent for Irene Pepperberg at the University of Arizona. Dick relayed this story about the language skills of Alex the African Grey Parrot.

It seems that Cheerios cereal was a favorite treat among the parrots in the lab. At a certain point, someone went to a new local health food store, and brought back some healthy organic O-shaped whole-grain cereal. Alex tried a mouthful, spit it out, looked at the provider, and said, very distinctly:


Of course, what you're reading is my re-telling of Dick's re-telling of his daughter's story, which itself might have been second hand. But still.

[10/16/2003: More about Irene Pepperberg and Alex is here.]

Posted by Mark Liberman at October 9, 2003 06:05 PM