This Kea Parrot Has A Contagious Laughter

Posted: Mar 21 2017, 6:01am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 21 2017, 8:17am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Kea Parrot Has Infectious Laugh With Play Call
This photographs shows a juvenile kea playing in the air. Credit: Raoul Schwing
  • This Kea Parrot from New Zealand Has Infectious Laugh With Play Call

The kea happens to be a parrot from New Zealand that has a contagious laughter. Actually this New Zealand parrot has a play call that makes other parrots laugh.

Laughter has been said to be a contagious and infectious thing. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone. The kea is a parrot in New Zealand that has a playful call that invites other parrots of its kind to join in the merry vocal circus. This sounds a whole lot like laughter and it seems to be a case of birds of a feather flocking together.

Thus the kea is the first non-mammalian species that has a contagious call. Chimps and rats show this tendency too. A playback recording of kea calls showed that other parrots in the vicinity responded to the voices with enthusiasm and excitement.

The entire exercise in merriment puts all the keas in a playful mood. The researchers were very interested in the call of the kea after hearing it in the wild state.

The full range of the calls are pretty complex. The calls played a role in gathering all the various keas together to engage in an act of community.

The scientists played the recorded calls to wild kea for a time span of 5 minutes. Even the call of a robin from South Island was mixed somewhere among the calls of the keas. When the wild birds heard the calls, they began to get into a playful mood.

The response was immediate and spontaneous in its nature. These wild keas continued to play for a very long time. Some of the keas began engaging in playful role-play with other birds upon hearing the sounds.

Also they interacted with species of avians that were not keas to begin with. This was indeed strange behavior which had seldom been seen before. Some started playing on their own and others also started playing with random objects. There were aerial acrobatics too.

The scientists have offered several explanations to fill in the gaps in knowledge regarding keas. For one thing, these keas do not actually respond to the sounds as a signal but the sounds induce playful behavior in them at a biological level. The state of positive emotional influence was at work here.

Although this reeks of human beings imposing their own ideas on animals, some of the keas were infected with the laughter-like calls. This play furthermore seems to have a social function in the kea population.

The findings of this study got published in the journal Current Biology.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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