Feb 21, 2019 | Updated: 08:27 AM EST

This New Zealand Parrot Species Named 'Kea' Can Spread Laughter With An Emotionally Contagious Call

Mar 21, 2017 05:43 AM EDT


A newly discovered species of Parrot in New Zealand has again proved that laughter is contagious. Researchers have found that Kea parrot has a playful nature, they can put others in the mood to play by tickling each other. This bird is the first non-mammal species that can make its friends laugh with their emotionally contagious call.

A research team from Messerli Research Institute in Austria led by Raoul Schwing went to Arthur's Pass National Park at Southern Island of New Zealand. To track their expression of Kea, researchers played the recorded sound of their play call and another type of calls for five minutes. According to Mail Online, they have also played the sound of other birds such as, South Island robin which is another species of that area.

Researchers observed that those birds reacted differently with different sounds. For instance, when they have played Kea Play tone then those birds exhibited more and longer play behavior than the other tones. Their findings were first published in the journal of Current Biology. Lead researcher Schwing said in an email,“In many instances, we saw that the Kea was immediately animated to play, but not by joining ongoing play already happening”.

National Geographic reported that the call does not invite Kea to play, it just affected their emotion and put them in a frisky frame of mind. Researchers compared the play calls with the infectious laughter in people because, they can play a lot in any situation by themselves, with others, on the ground, or in the air.

During the flight, Kea parrots can toss objects with their beak and feet. They can also perform aerial acrobatics and chase each other. This species is now vulnerable to extinction, due to human conflict and predation. International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) labeled this species as endangered species. This unique behavior of Kea helped scientists to understand deeply about the species. Co-founder and Chairman of the Kea Conservation Trust, Tamsin Orr-Walker said that better understanding of the species will help them to save those birds from extinction.

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