Imitative pecking by budgerigars, Melopsittacus undulatus, over a 24 h delay
Richards C., Mottley K., Pearce J., Heyes C.
On video, budgerigars observed a conspecific demonstrator depressing a stopper by pecking or by stepping and then feeding from the box below. The observers were given access to the stopper, immediately after observation or following a 24 h delay, and we recorded the proportion of their stopper removal responses that were made by pecking and by stepping. In experiments 1a and 1b, observers of pecking made a greater proportion of pecking responses than observers of stepping, and this effect did not vary between the immediate and delayed test groups. The results of experiment 2 replicated this effect with a delayed test, and suggested that it was due to imitation of pecking. Control birds that observed a demonstrator feeding, but did not see stopper removal, made a smaller proportion of pecking responses than pecking observers, but their behaviour did not differ from that of stepping observers. These findings are consistent with the associative sequence learning model of imitation, which suggests that the capacity to imitate a particular action depends on correlated experience of observing and executing that action. © 2009 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.