Testing for imitative and nonimitative social learning in the budgerigar using a two-object/two-action test
Heyes C., Saggerson A.
Male and female juvenile budgerigars, Melopsittacus undulatus, were allowed to observe a conspecific demonstrator using its beak to remove one of two distinctively coloured objects (i.e. a blue and a black stopper) from a hole in the lid of a box and eating seed from within. Both objects could be removed by either pulling up or pushing down. When subsequently allowed access to both stoppers, and rewarded with food for all removal responses, regardless of the object to which they were made and their direction, observer birds removed both stoppers in the same direction as their demonstrator. This effect was present on the first occasion when observers removed a stopper, and persisted over at least 24 trials. Female observers made more removal responses than males, but conspecific observation had equivalent effects on direction of responding in males and females. All observers tended to approach the same object as their demonstrator when the objects were discriminable using both spatial and colour cues, but not when they differed in colour alone. Contrary to previous findings, these results suggest that robust behavioural matching effects can be obtained in budgerigars, and that these birds are capable of motor imitation or emulation. © 2002 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.