Duck competes with parrots

Parrots have a competition: researchers have come across a representative of a species of birds, fairly common in Australia, whose repertoire goes well beyond mere quacks.

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A barbed duck has proven its ability to imitate a door slap and especially its throw: “Bloody idiot” (You, idiot). Biologist Karel Ten Kate first found it “hard to believe that this species can imitate human speech.”

While searching the archives, he came across a 1987 recording of “The Ripper,” a human-bred subject who was four years old at the time and lived in a nature reserve near Canberra.

The animal repeats the phrase “You bloody foo” over and over, skipping the letter “l” from the last word, and it seems that it is difficult for the duck to pronounce it. These sounds were accompanied by mating display, according to the study published Monday in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

Male ducks usually drive the competition with repetitive sounds and appropriate postures. According to the study, the duck breeder, who recorded it, provoked him by approaching the cage.

The Ripper will then begin his dance, but add insult to it instead of a simple imposter.

He took it a step further by making a sound very similar to a sliding door near the sink where he had been kept when he was little.


According to Carel Ten Cate, the fact that he reproduced the sounds heard when he was a duck is important, because “vocal learning was thought to be present only in songbirds, hummingbirds, and parrots.”

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The Scientific Journal reported in an article accompanying the study that other animals, elephants, dolphins, and seals, had greater repertoire than previously thought.

Thus Pachyderms have been shown to be able to produce specific horns and growls, on demand.

The young man, Jabu, who has learned to make small sounds, can express seven different sounds.

This indicates that the ‘complex level’ learning mechanism can be implemented in these types.

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