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Reflections on Avian Intelligence. The Emotional Side of the Story – Part II

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Complete Psittacine by Eb Cravens

The use of a ‘lure bird’ in the business of psittacine and other bird trapping has long been documented. Photos of Senegal Parrots being restrained in order to prompt them to screech for their flock mates to come back and help, were decidedly poignant and moving during the Wildlife Defenders push for a wild bird conservation act in the United States prior to that bill being passed by Congress in 1991. In former times, the classic term ‘stool pigeon’ was applied to the bird which was tied securely and used to decoy great flocks of passenger pigeons down to the trapping nets in the mid 1800s.

All such practices are based on the fact that wild flocks of birds often show some sort of loyalty or empathy or bravery or love for their members who fall into trouble. ‘Tis a hard phenomenon to explain: returning to reward of one’s death or imprisonment at the behest of plaintive cries from your companions. In us humans, many of us might even term such behaviour “heroic.”

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