Do birds know one another by names?


by saltine
Tags: birds, names
saltine
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#1
May11-12, 12:06 AM
P: 102
Do birds know one another by names?
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Pythagorean
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#2
May11-12, 12:45 AM
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There is a study that details the transmission of vocal signatures from parent to child, but in the discussion section, the authors vaguely associates it with the function as a name.

Vertical transmission of learned signatures in a wild parrot
Karl S. Berg1,2,*, Soraya Delgado1, Kathryn A. Cortopassi1, Steven R. Beissinger3 and Jack W. Bradbury2

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.o...2011.0932.full
Pythagorean
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#3
May11-12, 12:58 AM
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The above paper does seem to be making the claim that these unique signatures function as names, referencing the papers below:

Wanker R., Apcin J., Jennerjahn B., Waibel B. 1998 Discrimination of different social companions in spectacled parrotlets (Forpus conspicillatus): evidence for individual vocal recognition. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 43, 197202. (doi:10.1007/s002650050481) CrossRefWeb of Science

Wanker R., Sugama Y., Prinage S. 2005 Vocal labeling of family members in spectacled parrotlets, Forpus conspicillatus. Anim. Behav. 70, 111118. (doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2004.09.022) CrossRefWeb of Science

saltine
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#4
May11-12, 01:12 AM
P: 102

Do birds know one another by names?


Thank you, good to know that I am not crazy for thinking that birds of a flock know one another by their names.

Is it culturally ok for me to email Karl Berg to about it, given that I am not NPB student/researcher and I do not know more biology than what I have left now from BIO 101?
Pythagorean
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#5
May11-12, 01:19 AM
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I suppose that's why they have a correspondence e-mail, so that people can ask them about their work.

I'm still not sure how socially acceptable it is to say "birds have names", though. It's maybe safer to say that they have something similar to names. Also, I don't know what birds beyond parrots have been shown to demonstrate vertically transmitted unique signatures.
saltine
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#6
May11-12, 01:23 AM
P: 102
What do you mean by socially unacceptable and unsafe?

Do you mean that it is offensive to some people, or that it is not academically correct?
saltine
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#7
May11-12, 01:29 AM
P: 102
Personally when I became aware that birds might know one another by names, it makes me feel really happy and excited. It is like discovering a new alien society right outside my window. It makes me feel that the birds are just like other folks in town and they deserve to have their fair share of their habitat.
Pythagorean
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#8
May11-12, 01:35 AM
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I just mean that it's easy to anthropomorphize. It could just be a matter of coincidence, and not actually be the same thing as a name.
saltine
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#9
May11-12, 01:53 AM
P: 102
I understand.

To me, a name is a verbal symbol that a creature associates more-or-less uniquely with itself, so that when a creature wants to communicate to a specific individual within a group, the specific individual will understand that the message is directed to it and not to the others.

In the paper, "Vertical transmission of learned signatures in a wild parrot", there was no question on whether birds (in the paper, a specific kind of parrot), could recognize names; but who/what mechanism gave them their names.

Playback experiments also suggested that vocal signatures are assigned to family members [14]. If true, this would be an intriguing parallel with humans, in which vocal development is often contemporaneous with parents naming infants. However, one alternative that might appear to be vocal labelling would occur if juveniles acquired their own signature calls independently of parents and siblings, and family members later emulated these calls to solicit attention of a focal individual. Another alternative that might also give the appearance of vocal labelling is if parents provide a variety of signature templates to offspring and, as a result, facilitate individual acquisition of a particular signature call, but without directed labelling.
My understanding: Karl believed that the parents named their offspring, and the contesting theories are that the parents simply used whatever sound that the offspring responded to, or that the naming process is somewhat of a mix of the two.

So the question was not whether birds could know their names, but how did they get their names?


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