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Parrots mimic to communicate with individuals
Whether they are in captivity or in the wild, the parrots have an exceptional ability to mimic sound they hear. They try to mimic the calls of others to 'start a conversation'.

ACCORDING TO a new research, which observed the behaviour of Orange-fronted Conure or Orange-fronted Parakeet, a medium sized parrot that belongs to Mexico to Costa Rica, the birds feed in flocks and respond and imitate their calls to be able to address the other individuals within the flock.

The research was done by Dr Thorsten Balsby from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, and his colleagues from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The research was inspired by a previous research, which states that 'spectacled parrotlets' (a species of parrot) use different types of calls to name the individuals in a flock. But these Orange-fronted Conure live in a so called 'network-environment' with hundreds of birds in a flock. So, to distinguish themselves in the flock, each of them has a unique 'contact call'.

The team of researchers observed the birds both in forest environment and in lab environment; they found that the birds respond more quickly when their own contact calls are mimicked by some other birds. The research team was amazed to see that the parakeets were able to imitate the relatively minute differences in the contact calls.

The flocks of the birds keep changing; the birds shift from one flock to another and the parrots require a flexible vocalization system when they shift from one flock to another. Dr Balsby says that the mimicry makes it easy to communicate messages between the flocks. He said: “In natural interactions, orange-fronted conures continue to imitate each other after they have established contact,” reported the BBC nature news. 

Still the prolonged imitative interaction between the individuals of the flocks has not been decoded; it may be related to some kind of discussions regarding the fusion of a flock with another flock. But, based on these observations, one thing is clear that the parrots can begin their conversation with a specific individual by mimicking.

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