The Parrot-Human Connection & Other Tales
Here’s an animal fact that is not at all surprising if you’ve ever seen a hawk soar through the sky or a flock of pigeons settling in to roost together for the night: Caged birds suffer from a severe form of post-traumatic stress disorder and exhibit symptoms identical to those of prisoners of war and concentration camp survivors, including self-mutilation and persistent sadness. Even when they are rescued and taken to reputable sanctuaries, parrots, cockatoos, and macaws—who in the wild are extremely social—sometimes are never able to adjust to socializing with other birds and opt to remain alone, staring into space. So please don’t patronize pet stores that sell birds into a prison sentence from which they may never recover, even if they are lucky enough to be “paroled.”
Perhaps it was crickets who inspired Miguel de Cervantes’ famously chivalrous, albeit inept, character Don Quixote. Researchers have found that male crickets graciously allow their mates to enter the burrow first—although this leaves the well-intentioned males more vulnerable to predation, sometimes with tragic results. (Another interesting note from the study is that observing animals in their natural environment, rather than studying them in labs, provides more accurate information.)
I’ll admit … while writing this, I had to look up what an anvil is, but a type of wrasse known as the orange dotted tusk fish knows precisely how an anvil works. An evolutionary biologist at the Great Barrier Reef filmed a wrasse who carried a clam some distance, then repeatedly threw the clam at a rock to break open the shell. The scientist points out that this behavior shows that fish are capable of thinking ahead and reasoning. (All the more reason not to eat them.)
Written by Heather Faraid Drennan
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