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Correlation between intelligence and tameness?

Katie H

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Hi all,

Long time lurker , but finally set up an account to ask a question.

Are larger or more intelligent species more likely to remember their training for longer?

I spent weeks training my 2 budgies to be hand tame and less fearful. And I've occasionally had to leave for work for a week or so. My partner minded them for me but didn't train (allergic and a bit wary of birds tbh). Whenever I come back it's like taking leaps backwards.

Would other species (don't want to say more advanced, but shall we say..with a larger bird computer) be more inclined to remember training and remain tame and friendlier for longer?

Thanks,
Katie
 

BirdField

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Your birds aren't forgetting their training, they're likely upset since you've left. Imagine living every day with interaction and training with you, then being left alone with no interaction with you for a week. They don't forget what they've learned, my best guess is that they've moved their energy into something else and decided that trying to keep up interaction with you won't be worth it because you were gone. They aren't like dogs that will wait years for an owner to return, and that's because they are wild animals that cannot afford to do something so costly like wait for someday that they've no way of knowing will come. They need lots of interaction to stay trusting of anyone, and a week could easily set you back because you've been gone for so long.
The best I can explain it is that there's a deal between you and them that companionship is worth it if both sides keep up with interaction and trust building, that way both you and them put in effort and get out companionship. But leaving for a week could be perceived as not keeping up your side of the deal. They aren't going to keep giving you interaction if you keep not giving it to them, unless you re-seal the deal by showing even more effort than normal (which is what you do when you re-train them after trips). They are wild animals and cannot afford to maintain a one-sided deal on anything, including social interaction.
Budgies are very intelligent, but they are often sold short on their abilities because they're so common and considered "starter birds." All parrots are very intelligent and all parrots would be just as upset with you leaving for a week. I have no clue on the comparisons between species apart from the fact that greys and cockatoos are often attributed with being generally the smartest and craftiest species.
But just the idea of recognizing and understanding that a one-sided interaction isn't worth their energy is in itself a huge sign of intelligence.
 

BeanieofJustice

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Welcome to the Avenue!
I think Sam has me pretty well trained and tame, not sure how smart I am though. :D

In all seriousness, you disappeared and your little birds had no idea if they'd see you again, and they probably got accustomed to the new pattern. When you break from an expected pattern, you have to expect them to adapt too. I'm sure if you keep at it, they'll return to the old pattern.
I can't speak to "trainability" per se, because my bird and I have understandings but, I'm the trainable one. On the occasion that I take a trip, when I return, he's usually more clingy? than he usually is.

When he used to be closed in his cage at night, sometimes I would go away for a week and my mom would leave his cage open (he can't fly and doesn't go anywhere, so it was safe) and when I would return and tell him "bedtime" which was asking him to go into his cage, he wouldn't. He'd gone for a week without mom bossing him around! So it would usually take lights out for him to go in. Since then, he has free reign. But, it's an example of how he adapted to the new situation, just like your budgies did.
 

Katie H

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Thanks BirdField! Yeah I miss them so much when I'm away, thankfully it's not so much anymore, maybe 3 times a year or so.
I'll try the extra treats and attention when I get back. I probably fell into a bad habit of giving them more space when I got back as they didn't seem to want to deal with me.

With your experience with greys, I'm just curious as to the retention time something will take to be forgotten after not being practised? This is just pure curiosity. Seems like a silly area to be interested in, haha
 

JLcribber

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Conditioning is an on going thing. You quit conditioning, it goes away.
I spent weeks training my 2 budgies to be hand tame and less fearful.
A few weeks training is easily undone. Once you've owned these birds for years and they "know you" and have real "trust" because you "earned" it they will remain that way.

There is no need or desire to do these things when you aren't there so they don't. They live in the moment and do what is needed/desired in the moment.

A highly intelligent bird may remember some training longer but it will be much madder about you leaving and less forgiving when you come back.
 
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BirdField

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Thanks BirdField! Yeah I miss them so much when I'm away, thankfully it's not so much anymore, maybe 3 times a year or so.
I'll try the extra treats and attention when I get back. I probably fell into a bad habit of giving them more space when I got back as they didn't seem to want to deal with me.

With your experience with greys, I'm just curious as to the retention time something will take to be forgotten after not being practised? This is just pure curiosity. Seems like a silly area to be interested in, haha
That's great that you won't be missing too many weeks anymore. I think the extra treats when you get back would help them getting back into the swing of things with you being absent for a bit. :D
I don't actually have any experience with greys personally, they're just generally thought to be one of the most intelligent parrots. But many people on the forum here have adopted birds and years later they'll say or mimic something that doesn't sound like anything that they've heard in that home. They just decide to use a sound they learned in a previous home but haven't utilized in years. That's not specific to just greys, but often recognizable in them because they mimic so clearly. So I think all parrots can retain quite a bit, even if it's not practiced often. :)
Plus, some birds seem to remember previous people in their lives and react to it in very clear ways. @hrafn 's Kamara recently saw them in a dark wig and speaking in an accent (for a halloween costume) and she reacted very excitedly to it (here's the thread). As a sadder example, I've also seen a video of an older wild-caught cockatoo who very disturbingly reacted to hearing and seeing people in a parrot documentary who lived in her home range of Indonesia. She seemed to recognize the sound of the language of those living in her natural range and she screamed and cried in reaction to seeing the video. And she was quite old, likely over 20 since she's wild caught, and she still remembered that experience from being a chick.
 

BeanieofJustice

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Sam still remembers the person who had him before I got him; and he does NOT like her at all, she's the only one he still goes into full "battle bird" for and he hasn't lived with her for four years. He saw her recently and his reaction is pretty much the same.

Edited for spelling.
 
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Serin

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I find my budgies regress after a week or two without training, often to the point where they seem to have forgotten it all, but within a few sessions they will remember their training and return where we left off.
 

EkkieLu

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Welcome aboard! You're going to love it here!!!
 

Fuzzy

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Great responses already. Just wanted to give you an example of my Orange-winged Amazon, Ollie. I took a year to desentisize him to a travel cage, then teach him to enter it willingly and stay there whilst the door was shut for increasingly longer periods of time, because we were moving house/country. Now that we have moved I haven't bothered to keep up the training. I have decided three years later to teach him to go in the travel cage again. I am having to start again from scratch, but I know that this time round the training will be quicker... and indeed it is. Like me you will have to go back to the beginning, but you will find that your budgies make quicker progress this time round.
 

simon777

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Simon seems to remember everything. He remembers things that happened when he was under 2 yrs, before I met him. He does not like hearing me cough, I suspect someone he cared about had a long-time bad cough and went away and never came back (died?). He seems to remember being with his sibblings because he sometimes makes the baby bird noises. Simon remembers that he used to live with someone that would come home on a motorbike; for a long time he would get really excited when he heard a motorbike but now over 8 yrs later the sound upsets him. Simon really has the best memory I have ever heard of; he way out-strips me (I thought I had a good memory).
 

AviaryByTheSea

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Are larger or more intelligent species more likely to remember their training for longer?

I spent weeks training my 2 budgies to be hand tame and less fearful. And I've occasionally had to leave for work for a week or so. My partner minded them for me but didn't train (allergic and a bit wary of birds tbh). Whenever I come back it's like taking leaps backwards.

Would other species (don't want to say more advanced, but shall we say..with a larger bird computer) be more inclined to remember training and remain tame and friendlier for longer?

I am not a neuroscientist, but I do know there is no correlation between physical brain size, intelligence, and sophisticated behaviors. Rather intelligence is based on the structure of the brain and possibly there is a link between having a physically larger brain size to body size ratio. ie: Dolphins, their brain is much larger in portion to their body size. This is a subject for a different thread.

Arguably, one could suggest budgies are smartest of all parrots - if you were to base intelligence solely on the vocabulary and number of words known, as I do believe, the record is held by a budgie.

Additionally, you are correlating intelligence with tameness (lack of aggressiveness and handleability). And there is no correlation... "tameness" goes directly to how the bird was reared. If your budgie was parent raised they will tend to prefer other budgies more than people, this will be significantly noticed if you do not handle and have regular interactions with your bird. Budgies as species are a flocking bird and highly social amongst themselves.
 
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Katie H

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Thanks everyone for all your help and answers! I'll take that all on board, and it's great to hear your experiences in the area.
 

Cynthia & Percy

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welcome
 
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