These Parrots Can Make Other Parrots 'Laugh'—a First
The kea of New Zealand is the first non-mammal species to demonstrate infectious laughter, a new study says.
Forget the laughing kookaburra—kea are the birds that really tickle each other's funny bones.
The highly intelligent parrot has a specific call, that—like human laughter—puts other parrots that hear it in a good mood. This makes the kea the first known non-mammal to show contagious emotion, joining the ranks of humans, rats, and chimpanzees.
Scientists already knew that kea—native to New Zealand's mountainous South Island—make a non-threatening warbling sound while playing with other kea. But since the birds also warble alone, the noise could simply be an expression of pleasure.
To find out if kea use their play call to spread emotion among other kea, researchers led by Raoul Schwing, of the Messerli Research Institute in Austria, went