New research shows that New Zealand’s wild keas burst into play and laughter when exposed to a warble, which is the birds equivalent of canned laughter.
The research was led by Raoul Schwing from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria. Schwing and his team played a variety of 5-minute recordings to groups of between 2 and 12 wild keas.
The team conducted 60 test, 20 of which had the warble sound, and as seen in the above video the parrots explode into action after hearing the call. They have also been seen performing aerobatic loops, exchanged mid flight high fives and tossed objects between each other, in what can only be described as emotionally contagious behaviour set off by the laughter.
Schwind said “On hearing the calls, many birds started to spontaneously play with non-playing birds, or with an object close by, or by performing aerial acrobatics,”
They also found a 20 times increase in the the average number of play bouts while the warble was being played in comparison to the other sounds, with the average length of play being 90 times longer.
When they stopped the recording, the excitement stopped and the birds continued as normal.
Schwing brought a comparison to humans and the behaviour of the birds saying ““The only other animals to show this contagion effect are chimpanzees and rats, both very or relatively close in evolutionary terms,” he continued “Our finding further bridges the perceived gap between humans and [other] animals, and shows that it also happens in birds, which are very distantly related.”
IMAGE CREDIT:georgeburba / 123RF Stock Photo
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