To imitate, as in mockingbirds mimicking the songs of other species of birds.
Ornithologists are still unsure as to the function of mimicking in the wild, and theories abound. In some situations, mimicking can assist in food procurement – as when a blue jay imitates the sound of a red-tailed hawk to frighten other birds away from a good food source. Another theory suggests that a male bird with a wide repertoire of imitated sounds is a bird that has likely several years of experience, increasing the probability that females will find him attractive as a possible mate. African grey parrots have been known to mimic sounds in the wild, but the reason for this is currently unknown. That said, many parrot owners can testify to their pet birds using human language appropriately, instead of using it in simply mindless repetition. The groundbreaking work done by Dr. Irene Pepperberg (www.alexfoundation.org) has proven that parrots can learn to understand the human language and use it in context.
Nothing to do except not to teach – or allow a parrot to learn – things you don’t want to hear later, such as the house smoke alarm or your husband’s emphatic opinions when his favorite football team loses an important game!
Disclaimer: BirdChannel.com’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.