Why can parrots talk?

Question from Moira Jones

The noises made by most birds are hard-wired into their brains, but three types of birds –hummingbirds, songbirds and parrots – are capable of learning new vocalisations. 

Scientists believe that clusters in the birds’ brains called song nuclei enable this vocal learning and that it helps them to form strong social bonds with each other and their owners. Parrots are particularly good at mimicking human speech because their tongues can move around to make human-like vowel sounds. 

Answered by Joanna Stass for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 111. To feature in our Brain Dump section, send us your questions to [email protected] or message us on Facebook or Twitter
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