Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Alex the Parrot

  • Irene M. PepperbergEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_80-1


Animal “language”; Avian cognition; Comparative cognition; Nonhuman intelligence; Parrot cognition

Alex, a Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), was known for his extensive cognitive and communicative abilities. He was the subject of a 30-year research project to determine similarities and differences between his capacities and those of humans and various other nonhuman subjects. A description of his life and achievements follows.

Early Life

Hand-raised by a Chicago area parrot breeder, Alex was sold to a local pet store at about 4 months of age, where he resided, in a large cage with other Grey parrots, until approximately 13 months of age. He was then chosen, at random by the store manager, to become a research subject. Random choice ensured that any experimental success was not a consequence of having been bred specifically for intelligence or vocal ability.

Laboratory Environment

Although Alex was a research subject that lived in a laboratory setting at various universities...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Alexis Garland
    • 1
  1. 1.Ruhr UniversityBochumGermany