Careful with using Alexa or Google around your pet birds — your feathered friend might end up ordering up some crackers. An African grey Congo parrot in Florida has apparently mastered Amazon’s Alexa digital home assistant and has already moved on to conquering Google Home. Not so nice — the first thing Petra the parrot learned to do was to order all the lights off, at random.
“First, you’re like half awake and … like, ‘Was that a dream? Did that just happen?’,” Petra’s owner told WKMG-TV. “All day, every day, it’s all lights on, all lights off.”
The parrot has even earned its own YouTube channel, currently at more than 13,000 subscribers. Some of the more meta videos show Petra watching her own interviews on television, Facetiming with other parrots, and telling the dog to “Dance! Woo!”
Her owners are smart home enthusiasts, enabling Petra to use their Amazon Echo to use an Insteon switch and Hue bulbs to turn lights on and off, after which she often demands a peanut, according to one YouTube post: “Scratch scratch scratch. I love you. Alexa. All lights on. Fart sound. Come here step you. Peanut. I want a peanut. Whatcha doing?”
Despite Petra’s relatively young age at four years old (African grey Congo parrots can live up to 70 years), she already knows how to speak more than 300 words. Unfortunately, the parrot took quite affectionately to Alexa, which came as quite a shock when her owners switched recently to Google Home.
“She responds to her training by correcting us with ‘Alexa’ when we say ‘OK Google’ lol,” writes Petra’s owner.
Grey parrots, whose natural home is the rainforest, are an endangered species, with humans by far the greatest threat to wild grey parrot populations. In addition to being hunted for its meat and components used in traditional medicines, mortality rates are extremely high after being captured for sale on the international market.
However, companion parrots remain extremely popular for their ability to mimic human speech. These fiercely intelligent birds need near-constant enrichment and attention, partially due to an intelligence level gauged to be par to that of a kindergartener. Studies show that grey parrots can learn number sequences and associate human voices with human faces, in addition to being able to differentiate between objects, colors, materials, and shapes.
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