What if we are the only ones who have no idea how to communicate with anyone not of the same species?
What if other animals send ambassadors to us constantly in the hopes that they will find one human who can understand their language well enough so that the issues facing the rest of the animal kingdom have a voice with those powerful enough to enact meaningful change?
When my cat started each morning with a meow that sounded amazingly close to "Hello!" did it know what it was saying and did it use that word as a tool to get a specific response?
What was that crow trying to tell me that day?
Great work on this. Hopefully you are able to crack a code that finally allows us to participate in the conversation.
It has always intrigued me that animals recognize when humans are in the area and in general designate a member of the group to monitor us to determine our intentions. I feel like they are experts at human gesture recognition, able to detect intent just from the context of the motions and that some monitor whether we have anything in our hands that could be used against them.
It's hilarious that mockingbirds and other birds will dive bomb people wandering too close to a nest and it's entertaining to think that part of their vocalizing is probably just a series of warnings, epithets and insults as they are forced to take action against the oblivious intruder who bumbled into their territory.
Vocalizations by any animal are just band-limited signals. If we can figure out which frequency components carry the information and derive information about the encoding then we can decipher it.
"I'm a genu-wine cowboy bird, giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up horsey!"
That was one of his most common pronouncements. Mom taught him to say that.
"I'm a jabberwocky bird."
"Stop that, Bear!"
Bear was our dog. He originally hated the attention that the bird got and once leaped into the air as the bird flew past and caught him in his mouth. We watched for a second as Bear looked triumphantly at us, wings and tail feathers all you could see of the old Cowboy Bird.
Mom rushed in to save the bird, slapping the dog across the nose so he would release it. From that point on the dog carefully guarded the bird since I think he understood that the bird was as much a valued member of the family as he was.
Cowboy Bird, upon being released was hilariously vocal about the ordeal.
"Dammit Bear! Stop that, Bear! Shit! Damn. Dammit Bear! I'm a jabberwocky bird!"
With his admonishments, he seemed to understand the context of the situation perfectly.
I think the bird also had a sense about who was present and able to hear him. He babbled constantly to anyone and almost everyone. There was one person, a friend of my mother's, who despite visiting numerous times never heard the bird say anything. Cowboy Bird was totally muted every time she visited. When she would call on the telephone, the bird stopped talking until the phone call ended. Mom used to try to coax the bird to talk since she had bragged about the bird's large vocabulary so many times but she was never able to get the bird to say a word as long as the friend was in a position to hear. Once the friend was no longer in earshot, Cowboy Bird resumed the verbalizing.
Dad had a crow for a pet as a kid. He taught it to talk though I don't remember how large a vocabulary it had.
My cat, as mentioned earlier, started every morning with a "Hello" until you opened the door and fed her or petted her. When she needed anything, she would pace by the door saying "Hello". She spent more than a year in the shelter before we rescued her. She was an older cat then and has since passed on to her next opportunity. I hope she spends less time in a shelter this time around. Second sweetest cat ever. Mice, birds, lizards, and bugs trembled with fear when she wandered around.
If they can put sentences together like that, I imagine Parakeets can probably talk to each other.
If not in the wild, then if they have been educated with humans I'd guess they'd talk to each other in the same human type manner.
Btw there is a posting before about whale and it’s changing strategy due to the whaler is very different.
I feel that other animals maintain a complex inter-species communication network that we have evolved to lock ourselves out of once our own capacity to destroy larger, more dangerous animals developed to the point where the main threat to our own survival came from other humans.
Our senses optimized to detect and interpret those signals that come from the largest hazard to our own existence. We still have the ability to recognize other species warning signals - growls from dogs, roars from lions and bears, etc. but we no longer natively understand the content of the message, instead we can only interpret the context before taking any action.
Hear it here: https://youtu.be/l117wfB0g3o
There are now efforts to preserve the language, but there is a whole generation unable to speak it because cellphones and lack of farmers made the language almost obsolete.
Basically my thesis is that understanding is possible and that it's facilitated by being able to produce as well as hear a given vocalization.
> In the 1960s, she took part in a NASA-funded research project in which she attempted to teach a dolphin named Peter to understand and mimic human speech.
There are several articles and podcasts which can provide more detail.
But then again we hear dogs and cats and still don't understand them. But i guess we can't smell like them either
This brings to mind a Gary Larson cartoon:
Sounds produced by birds can be divided into two types: songs and calls. Songs are primarily by males to attract mates, and are sung the same song over and over with minimal variation. Females, in turn, are attracted to the males with highest song stereotypy that sound closest to the "ideal" for the species. Calls are used to communicate to other birds of a certain idea, e.g. a predator nearby, and are also consequently standardized.
So while this is indeed very cool, it's my suspicion it won't be recognized as "authentic" by the birds themselves. You can't just "make up" new syllables or sounds and have it be understood.