Does this bird know his colors?

Alright readers, here’s a challenge for you. Check out this youtube clip below of a raven, who is being trained to peck at a yellow bowling pin. He has two choices–peck yellow or peck blue.

If he pecks the correct pin, he receives a bit of food as a reward. If he pecks the incorrect pin, both pins are removed and he gets a brief time out. The pins are then presented again, and he has to make another choice.

Birds are extremely intelligent, as Irene Pepperburg and others have demonstrated. (See my book review here about Pepperburg’s research with the parrot Alex.) They can easily learn simple and complex discriminations. Ravens are some of the smartest of birds. However, I’m not completely convinced that this one has learned yellow and blue yet.

So, what do you think? The bird usually seems pretty certain about his choice. But how well does he know his colors? Does he really understand “pick yellow?” Or are there other factors and rules that are influencing which pin he picks?

Check out the clip, then let me know what you think in the comments section below. I’ll post on Tuesday about what I think, as well as how we need to be careful when teaching behaviors and cues.

(Thank you to the Ark Lady for originally finding this clip.)

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