WTF Fun Fact 13425 – The Dracula Parrot

Who doesn’t love a bird that looks like Dracula? They’re not exactly warm and cuddly, but the Dracula Parrot is a fascinating creature.

What is the Dracula Parrot?

The real name of this bird is Pesquet’s Parrot. Native to the rainforests of New Guinea, the oddly-colored creature is unlike any other parrot.

We typically think of parrots as brightly colored, but the Dracula parrot is black and charcoal grey with a dash of scarlet feathers. It’s those scarlet feathers on the belly and wings that make people think of the bloody book character.

What makes Pesquet’s Parrot unique?

In addition to its somber coloring (which we think is quite fashionable), the bird’s face is unlike other parrots’. The Dracula Parrot’s near featherless face is unusual in the parrot family, but serves a specific purpose. With a diet primarily composed of figs, the lack of feathers helps to keep them clean while feeding.

As a frugivore (not a vampire), the Dracula Parrot feeds on a variety of fig species. This dietary specialization also distinguishes it from its parrot relatives, who are often wood-chewers or nut-crackers.

Its feeding habits have, over time, necessitated an adaptation of strong, sharp claws that help it clasp onto branches while it gorges on its beloved figs.

Behavior and biodiversity of the Dracula Parrot

This beguiling bird is also unlike other parrot species behaviorally. Most of these birds are known for their loud calls and social behavior. However, the Dracula Parrot exhibits a comparatively quieter disposition.

In addition, their flight pattern, described as swift and purposeful, often takes them above the canopy. Other parrots prefer staying within it.

Unlike their more gregarious counterparts, Dracula Parrots tend to be found in pairs or small groups. This propensity for quieter, smaller congregations further amplifies their enigmatic persona.

They’re dark. They’re mysterious. They’re just…so cool!

A vivid reminder

While the Dracula Parrot adds an interesting hue to the rich biodiversity of New Guinea, it is, unfortunately, not immune to the threats that many wildlife species face today. Habitat loss due to deforestation and hunting for its striking feathers (used in local ceremonial attire) are significant challenges to its survival.

Its diet, so unique and specific, also makes it more vulnerable to the effects of habitat destruction.

However, not all is bleak for the bird. Conservation efforts are ongoing to ensure that this distinct bird continues to be a part of our planet’s beautiful biodiversity.

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Source: “Pesquet’s Parrot (Dracula Parrot): Psittrichas fulgidus” — A-Z Animals

WTF Fun Fact 13341 – Parrot Video Calls

Parrots are social animals. That’s why they don’t always make the best solo pets. However, recently, researchers have given pet parrots a new way to thrive after teaching the birds to use technology to make parrot video calls.

Parrot playtime with video calls

Researchers from Northwestern University, MIT, and the University of Glasgow conducted the study. With the help of some parrot parents, the team successfully trained parrots to communicate with each other.

Over several months, participants taught captive African grey parrots to use a custom-built video-calling system. First, researchers trained the birds to use touchscreens mounted inside their enclosures with easy-to-understand symbols and icons representing different contacts. The researchers rewarded their interactions with food treats. As the birds grew more comfortable with the devices, they were gradually introduced to video calls, first with their handlers and later with other parrots.

Parrots embrace technology

The African grey parrots demonstrated a remarkable ability to learn and adapt to the use of the video-calling system. Not only were they able to initiate calls, but they also showed preferences for specific contacts, indicating that they understood the purpose of the technology and were actively seeking social interaction through the calls.

The study found that the parrots were more likely to engage in video calls when they were alone in their enclosures. This suggests that the video-calling system provided social stimulation and companionship, especially in the absence of human interaction. The introduction of video-calling technology in captive settings could potentially improve the quality of life for these intelligent and social animals.

So, it turns out parrots like to video chat with one another just like humans do, and that it makes them feel less lonely. Many birds in the study stayed on the calls for the maximum allotted time and still choose to call their buddies from the research study over a year later.

According to Northwestern University:

“The most popular parrots were also the ones who initiated the most calls, suggesting a reciprocal dynamic similar to human socialization. And while, in large part, the birds seemed to enjoy the activity itself, the human participants played a big part in that. Some parrots relished the extra attention they were getting from their humans, while others formed attachments for the humans on the other side of the screen.”

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Source: “Scientists Taught Pet Parrots to Video Call Each Other—and the Birds Loved It” — Smithsonian Magazine