That was a wonderful video. I think that we truly know so little about animal cognition - the investigation is just beginning. A couple of years ago, a committee proposed a complete overhaul of the nomenclature for bird brain anatomy because it did not accurately reflect the more recent findings about complexity and function of the structures.
I think that science will continue to find that there's a lot more going on cognitively in animals than was ever supposed. Essentially, researchers will catch up with what pet owners have known all along.
That pets look like their owners?
Ok, now that I've watched the vid, I must say it was enjoyable. However many pet owners should be punished for how they treat their pets, so I would hesitate before saying that pet owners know a whole lot.
We had a border collie who would do the bit with word games. She lived to fetch. As a very specialized working dog, it was her way to spend that energy, and serve, as she needed to do.
Our routine was that we say fetch, she runs like hell in the direction that I'm pointing, and then I throw the ball just far enough ahead of her so that she could catch the ball on the first or second bounce. But she wasn't supposed to move until I say the magic word - fetch! So then we started playing games. I would point and act like I was going to throw and say, "finch!", "feathers!", "fickle!", "fin!" and whavever variation we could think of. But she wouldn't move until we said "fetch!". If I said the wrong word, she would start to move but then freeze [like playing statues]. If one leg was off the ground, she held it there. Then she would look at me out of the corner of her and wait for the magic word.
I remember reading somewhere (it was about five years ago so I cant remember where I saw the article) that some large parrot species, mostly African greys and Cockatoos can have the the intelligence and comprehension level of an average five year old child.
Wasn't there also a study done that observed ravens and crows using sticks as tools to get grubs out of hard to reach areas.
I think Ivan posted that great link about crows using tools. Maybe he still has it.
I have a collection of favorite African Grey links that you might like:
Most people probably have heard of Alex, the most famous of the African Greys. Alex has a vocabulary of around 100 words but seems to be able to put them together meaningfully. I saw a TV interview with Alex and his trainer, Irene Pepperberg several years ago, and I was blown away when Alex said clearly, "I want go shoulder". Here's an article about Alex: http://www.123compute.net/dreaming/knocking/alex.html
Excerpt: "Parrots, of course, are famous mimics, and some parrots have bigger vocabularies than Alex. But no parrot, says Dr. Pepperberg, has been able to perform tasks as complex as Alex can. And she believes that when Alex vocalizes, he is expressing the results of his thoughts, not mere mimicry. For instance, when she asks Alex what color corn is, he answers yellow, even though there is no corn around. This means, she says, he has an abstract concept of what the words "color," "corn" and "yellow" mean. He has not simply memorized them, but can apply them to different objects."
There is more info about Irene Pepperberg's research with Alex and other African Greys at The Alex Foundation:
N'kisi is another impressive African grey.
"The bird, a captive African grey called N'kisi, has a vocabulary of 950 words, and shows signs of a sense of humour. He invents his own words and phrases if he is confronted with novel ideas with which his existing repertoire cannot cope - just as a human child would do."
Here's an article about an loquacious African Grey named Einstein. Einstein is interesting to me just because he/she seems to take pleasure in mimicking.
And I love this video of Einstein:
Bird brains and tools
Separate names with a comma.