FaceTime For The Birds

When Steve Jobs debuted FaceTime back on the iPhone 4, it felt like the future had arrived. For decades we dreamed of portable video calls that The Jetsons had promised. Now it connects people millions of times daily. But would that connection work for other species? A fascinating report from Emily Anthes at the NY Times shows how parrots are benefitting from this too.

First, participants taught their parrots how to request a video call. When the birds rang a bell. Their owners would offer a tablet or phone with photos of other participating parrots, like a digital avian Rolodex. Once the birds learned the system, they began asking to call their feathered friends. A lot.

“We had birds who would sleep next to each other,” said Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, a researcher at the University of Glasgow. “Sometimes they would leave the video call real quickly to go get something to show the other bird.”

NY Times

The video calls were revealing in how birds connect because they would mirror grooming techniques and even sleep together with the call still connected. It's sweet and makes you see these parrots in a new light.

A small snippet of video is part of this interactive NYT feature and it's cool to watch. It's a short presentation, but a must-see for any animal lover out there.