Do Parrots Have Good Memory

Do Parrots Have Good Memory?

If you have owned a parrot for some time now, you certainly would have made many good memories together. And you know your parrot remembers many of the things you’ve taught them like following your commands repeating words and performing tricks. But how long can parrots remember all of that?

Parrots have different types of memories, including short-term, episodic, and associative memories. Parrots have a short-term memory of about 15 seconds.

Anecdotal evidence and few researches on long-term memory suggest parrots can retain memories for a long time. Parrots are capable of storing different kinds of information, including words, phrases learned actions and behaviors, their name, and even people’s faces. However, just like humans, each parrot’s memory and learning capabilities may vary.

Do Parrots Have Short-Term Memory?

Parrots do have short-term memory. It is estimated that a parrot’s short-term memory of an action lasts for a few seconds.

According to research conducted by Nature Journal, Blue-Throated Macaws have a short-term memory of about 15 seconds.

If you try to teach your parrot any new activity, parrots can remember the command only for a few seconds. This is why while training a parrot, repetition is so important.

When you have a parrot repeat an action or a phrase again and again, it helps them register it into their working memory instead of their short-term memory.

Do Parrots Have Long-Term Memory?

Parrots store all kinds of memories and can remember them for a long time. To understand how long-term memory works in parrots, we need to understand it in detail. Long-term memory can be divided into two types—explicit and implicit.

Implicit memory refers to information that is stored unconsciously in the brain. It includes habits, skills, and behaviors that are done every day without even knowing about them. 

For a parrot that may include, manipulating objects with its feet, or using its beak to break hard foods. A parrot cannot forget these life skills as they are stored and retrieved by the brain automatically. 

The other type of long-term memory is explicit memory. Explicit memory can be further divided into episodic memory and semantic memory. 

This is where long-term memory starts to get difficult to assess. Whether or not a parrot has episodic memory cannot be known for certain because they cannot speak to us. Episodic memory is quite complex to understand because the information exists outside of the conscious mind. 

Given that parrots live long lives, they have many experiences that they should remember. However, there is no clear way of knowing how well parrots remember these events that happened in the distant past. After all, they are animals and cannot give a detailed account of a past event. 

However, some scientists believe that birds do form and store episodic-like memories. According to Research Gate, hoarding birds are able to remember the time, place, and location of the food they hide, which suggests that they have some form of episodic memory. 

Now let’s talk about semantic memory. This is a type of long-term memory that deals with the capacity to store general knowledge, facts, and concepts. It is independent of personal experiences. It is the repository of knowledge that a parrot has about the world.

How Long Can Parrots Remember?

Research from The Journal of Wildlife Management shows that parrots have a considerable memory span. This study was conducted on the kea parrot, which is native to New Zealand. 

The New Zealand pest control operations use a toxic compound – sodium fluoroacetate (1080) to control mammalian predators and protect native animals. However, the kea was at risk of mortality from ingesting this toxin, which was not intended for them. 

To help the kea stay away from this poison, researchers trained them to avoid baits with a special smell and taste. The researchers then revisited and tested the kea’s memory over time by offering them similar baits without the harmful stuff. 

The kea remembered to avoid these baits for almost a year, even when they hadn’t been exposed to the harmful baits for almost 2 years. This shows that the kea can remember things for a long time, possibly over 2 years.

Working Memory In Parrots

Scientific Reports conducted a study to assess visual working memory manipulation abilities in humans and African Grey parrots. The participants included 6-to-8-year-old children, African Grey parrots, and adults.

In this task, participants were presented with a certain number of objects that were initially placed in specific locations. These objects were then temporarily hidden from view, and their positions were manipulated by swapping places a certain number of times.

The task involved variations in set sizes and the number of swaps. The goal was to assess how well participants, both human and avian, could manipulate and update their mental representations of object locations during the game.

The Grey parrot outperformed the children across different conditions of the game. The parrot’s accuracy in manipulating visual working memory was comparable to and slightly better than, that of human adults in most scenarios.

However, when the task became more complex, involving four items manipulated with 3–4 swaps, the parrot’s performance declined, resembling that of 6- to 8-year-olds.

parrot playing memory game

Importance Of Memory For Wild Parrots

In the wild, both short-term and long-term memory play a crucial role in a parrot’s daily life. Parrots use memory in their day-to-day tasks in the wild. When parrots are searching for food, they navigate the forests and find the food source. 

But in order to go back to their nest cavities for the night they have to use their short-term memory. Parrots go out every day but they remember their path back to their roosting spot. 

Do Parrots Remember Their Previous Owners?

Many people think that if they leave their parrot for a long time, their parrot will not remember them when they get back or maybe not greet them with the same excitement that it used to.  

If you ever have to say farewell to your feathered companion, don’t worry, your parrot won’t forget you so easily. It may make new friends but you will always have a place in its heart. 

Parrots are able to recognize their owners even after years of separation. Once a parrot has developed a bond with you, you will be registered in its memory. They will remember you for years since they have spent a considerable time of their life with you. 

However, your memories can start to fade away once enough time has passed. Parrots have a long lifespan, and during this time they may be rehomed several times. So it is not always possible for them to remember all of their owners. 

Parrot with its owner

How Do Bad Memories Affect Parrots?

Negative experiences are certainly remembered by parrots for a long time. If a parrot has been abused in the past, it will carry the burden of bad memories with it for almost the rest of its life. 

Parrots can form negative or positive associations with a particular event in their life. The negative experiences are generally what we refer to as “bad memories.”

There are many examples of how a bad memory affects and shapes a parrot’s behavior. For example, a parrot that has a bad memory with a male caretaker while it was growing up, will gravitate toward females in its adulthood. 

Another common example would be a vet visit. If your parrot had a terrifying experience at the vet for its nail clipping, it might be stressed to go there the next time. 

You may think that your parrot would have forgotten the event. And in some sense it does. But when you visit the vet the next time, your parrot will be able to recall the fear of going through that process and may panic. 

However, your parrot can also have positive associations with certain life events. This is what we call “good memories”. These are all the times you and your parrot had a fun time. 

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

Articles: 240

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *