Cockatiel sings iPhone ringtone

I’m not sure why parrots, cockatoos, and mynah birds have an amazing ability to imitate sounds that their ancestors would never hear in nature. It’s surely the byproduct of some other adaptation that has nothing to do with imitation, but what that is baffles me. Nevertheless, I’m still mesmerized by the ability of some bird species to imitate voices and sounds. Here’s a cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) that imitates an iPhone ring (being a product of the dial-telephone age, my own iPhone rings like one of the old black jobbies with a dial). When you click on the video below, you’ll be given a link (“watch on YouTube”) that takes you to the site.

The Youtube notes:

My friend’s family has a cockatiel named Lucky. Whenever Lucky gets upset, he sings an Apple ringtone. It usually happens when they tie their shoes to get ready to leave the house. It’s adorable, and also pitch perfect.

23 Comments

  1. Posted March 6, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Cackle 😂

  2. busterggi
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Cockatiels are very individual this way, I’ve two talkers at the moment but they don’t say the same things. The one in the video clearly like human companionship and has learned that his person come to the ringtone sound so he uses it to call him.

  3. Posted March 6, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  4. Liz
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    That’s my ringtone. That’s so neat.

  5. Posted March 6, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    My sense in the case of the American mockingbird is that display of vocal versatility is some sort of sexual and/or territorial advertisement. They run through elaborate and ever changing calls, loud (to the point of annoying), while perched high on a prominent twig or wire). Imitating other birds (first) and other sounds (by extension) would be one way to increase their repertoire and hence the persuasiveness of the display.

    • Posted March 6, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      I would imagine that good imitations are an honest signal of good brain processing abilities and good muscular control. Females should be impressed by this. The ability has evolved independently many times.

      When I worked at a remote place in the Amazon, with only radio contact with the outside world, the local Yellow-rumped Caciques learned to imitate our radio static! A single individual could also imitate a whole chorus of frogs.

      • Leo Glenn
        Posted March 6, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        When I lived in Los Angeles, I was struck by how expertly the mockingbirds there imitated car alarms. One bird would cycle through a half dozen or so different alarms, interspersed with an occasional birdsong.

      • phil
        Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Curiously, I’ve read several times that all songbirds originated in Australia.

        “…imitate our radio static”

        Even to the point of replicating its genuinely random nature?

    • Charles
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      I’ve heard mockingbirds imitate back up alarms on heavy equipment.

      When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time in a tree fort. I could whistle a simple series of notes and mockingbirds would pick it up.

  6. Posted March 6, 2018 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I knew a woman in the dialup internet days who cut the wires to the speaker in her modem in a last ditch attempt to get it to shut up before her African Grey learned the dialup handshake.

  7. Posted March 6, 2018 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    There’s also my favorite, the Lyre bird who does camera shutter with motor drive, car alarm, and chainsaw. From a David Attenborough tv show:

    • Posted March 6, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      I’ve heard that one before and I still find it stunning.

      • Mike
        Posted March 7, 2018 at 5:48 am | Permalink

        My favourite as well, if you hadn’t posted it I was going to.

  8. mfdempsey1946
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I remember hearing about a divorcing couple that gave their parrot to a friend, who soon discovered that the bird could vocalize perfect imitations of the couple’s arguments.

  9. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Then there are the birds that have learned how to activate Alexa and create all kinds of havoc.

  10. Andrea Kenner
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Adorable!

  11. Hrafn
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Tuis have the same mimicry ability:

    • Taskin
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Great sneeze at the end! 🙂

  12. phil
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    I know what a cockatiel is, but what’s an iPhone?

  13. Posted March 7, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Thats too cute , i have a cockatiel to and he imitates my laugh and kisses , they are so smart people dont give them enough credit , as far as im concerned they are smarter then some people .

  14. Posted March 7, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Thats too cute , i have a cockatiel too and he imitates my laugh and kisses , they are so smart people dont give them enough credit , as far as im concerned they are smarter then some people . 👍🐦🐦.

  15. Bill Morrison
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    For several years I have heard a raven here in my northern Vermont, USA location imitating a ringtone. Or is it just one of the raven’s natural calls? It is truly fascinating to hear.

  16. Posted March 7, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    That reminds me of a good Cold War joke. A Soviet citizen goes to his local KGB office and says, “Someone seems to have stolen my talking parrot.” The KGB officer says, “This is the KGB. You need to report a theft to the local municipal police.” The citizen says, “I know. I’m on my way there. I just wanted to let you know I totally disagree with that bird.”


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