Mar 28 2013

Willing To Wait

Published by at 7:30 am under Bird Behavior

If you knew you'd get better food than what you already have if you just waited, would you wait?

Alice Auersperg and her team at the University of Vienna’s Department of Cognitive Biology tested 13 Goffin cockatoos (Cacatua goffini) to see if they would refrain from eating a lesser quality food if they knew a better one was coming.  Until this experiment, only primates and corvids had shown this level of self control.

In the video Muffin is shown two nuts and offered a less preferred pecan.  He takes the pecan but can see a yummy cashew waiting out of reach on the researcher's left hand.  If he waits and returns the pecan, he'll get the cashew.

So he waits.  Even though he can smell and taste the pecan he holds in his beak, he merely rearranges it and paces to take up the time.

Eventually the researcher offers him her empty right hand.  He returns the pecan and gets the cashew.

In the 1970's this level of self restraint shown by children in a test using marshmallows was ultimately correlated to greater success in life.  Those who can delay gratification will go far.

Of course parrots can wait.  😉


(video on You Tube from the University of Vienna)

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Willing To Wait”

  1. Karen Bon 28 Mar 2013 at 7:54 am

    That was amazing!

  2. FAITH CORNELLon 28 Mar 2013 at 8:57 am

    That was so interesting; owned one once and he never cared but of course I only fed him the “very best”. I would take vanilla or chocolate ice cream, delay or not. Faith Cornell.

  3. Kathleenon 28 Mar 2013 at 9:30 am

    It’s amazing what we find when we look actually for it! Hadn’t seen this reported yet – thanks!

  4. George Bercikon 29 Mar 2013 at 1:24 am

    I wonder where I would place, should I be subjected to a similar test. I’ve always felt that I occcupied a solid rung about half-way up the evolution ladder. Not too bright, but I’m not selling my soul for a lousy cashew.

  5. Out Walking the Dogon 01 Apr 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Nice post, and a wonderful video. What a bird.

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