While the term “bird-brain” has often been considered an insult for someone with low intelligence, some birds can be remarkably smart, like crows and ravens. This intelligence is often revealed in the form of:
- Counting Ability – Birds like crows can count at least up to 3, and parrots up to 6.
- Tool Usage – Several birds have been seen using tools to get food.
- Social Interaction – Birds engage in complex interactions, not only with their own species but also with other birds and even humans.
- Observational Learning – Baby birds learn skills like flying from their parents.
- Problem Recognition and the Ability to Solve Them
An intelligent bird makes a great companion as a pet, either because it learns tricks, talks, or is generally social.
List of the Smartest Pet Birds
Widely considered the most intelligent pet bird alive today, the African Grey Parrot is well known for its intelligence. Among its capabilities is the ability to speak words in proper context, recognize shapes, tell jokes, count, and express themselves. Alex, an African Grey Parrot who was part of a thirty-year-long experiment, could say about 100 words in context, identify colors, and was even capable of showing frustration.
Macaws are known for their striking plumage, which comes in various colors like red, blue, and yellow. But these beauties are not brainless as they can use their dextrous feet to use tools and have quite a vocabulary. Their intelligence is comparable to that of a human toddler, with the blue Hyacinth Macaw considered the smartest.
Cockatoos have shown themselves intelligent enough to use tools and sway to music beats, indicating that they have rhythm. But most impressively, these white birds have the object permanence, i.e., the capability of recognizing that something exists, even if it isn’t visible, of a human child. There have even been several reports of cockatoos using their dexterity to open the locks of their cages.
Almost all species of Amazon parrots can be taught how to do complex tasks. But even more impressive is their ability to mimic human speech, maintaining even the pitch and tone.
One shouldn’t underestimate the intelligence of a Budgie due to its size. Not only can they learn human languages accurately, but they are also capable of learning various tricks. Scientists estimate that an average Budgerigar is as intelligent as a two-year-old.
Canaries are known for their melodic singing and can even be trained in the songs of other birds with the help of recordings.
Some finches, like the Woodpecker Finch, have been documented using tools like twigs to reach insects from crevices.
Like other parrots, conures can also learn how to speak if trained. Some conures may even use tools and enjoy stimulating activities.
It is essential to mention that while a bird may have the potential to be smart, without the proper environment, training, and patience, it will never be able to display its intelligence. To develop their intelligence, they need to be stimulated with activities that will help them grow properly.