Parrots are fascinating creatures. I have been a fan of parrots ever since I received my talking parrot toy when I was a kid. I would say something to my toy parrot, it would record what I said, and then repeat it back to me. My parrot provided hours of amusement for my friends and I. Some of you probably had this toy as well.
There has been a lot of research done on parrot communication. Do parrots simply mimic, like my toy, or do they understand what they're saying? This question has not been answered fully, but there is evidence that parrots do have somewhat of an understanding of what they say. On researcher spent many years with a parrot named Alex, who was an African gray parrot. He had a vocabulary of 150 words. African gray parrots use language in a more humanlike way. Alex's trainer said that at the time of his death, he had the intelligence of a five year old. The scientific community is skeptical about these findings however, because they point out that Alex's communication skills are due to operant conditioning. Parrots are very intelligent creatures, but it is difficult to gauge how smart they really are.