These parrots developed new dialects in captivity. Can their wild kin understand them?
Captive breeding saved the gabby birds from extinction, but it also changed their way of communicating, raising a concern for their future.
Today the squawks, shrieks, and whistles of parrots reverberate through the rainforest of Puerto Rico. But a few decades ago, these sounds almost disappeared.
In a last-ditch effort to pull the species back from extinction, conservationists began to breed the parrots in captivity. It was a successful gambit: Though the chatty emerald-green birds are still considered critically endangered, today more than 600 exist.
Now there may be a new threat to their survival, conservations say. Captive parrots have developed an entirely new dialect, a phenomenon that has not been observed before in other captive bird populations, says study leader Tanya Martínez, a conservation biologist with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resource's Puerto Rican Parrot