This Parrot Has An 'Infectious Laugh,' Scientists Say : The Two-Way The researchers say that when the highly intelligent kea parrots hear a call associated with play, they start playful tussling, aerial acrobatics, or throwing objects into the air.

This Parrot Has An 'Infectious Laugh,' Scientists Say

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

I don't know if you saw that viral video of the mom trying on a Chewbacca mask. Do you remember that? Her laugh was so infectious. Well, get this. Researchers say they have found the same thing in birds. NPR's Merrit Kennedy, why don't you introduce us to this New Zealand parrot?

MERRIT KENNEDY, BYLINE: If you were a kea parrot, that warbling call might make you spontaneously want to do aerial acrobatics. That's what researchers in New Zealand found while studying the highly intelligent alpine parrot. They knew that that call almost always happened during times of play. But is the bird hearing an invitation from another bird, or was just that call enough to make the animal feel like playing?

Raoul Schwing of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna says that to their great surprise, they found it was the latter. Hearing that call appears to make the bird spontaneously start playful tussling.

RAOUL SCHWING: The birds that weren't playing at all - and there was no play anywhere else - just start playing with one another.

KENNEDY: Here, playing recorded call has exactly that impact on two adult birds.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD CALLS)

KENNEDY: Schwing writes in "Current Biology" that this positive emotional contagion has also been documented in primates and rats which are closer biologically to humans. Merrit Kennedy, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF RJD2 AND STS' "MONSTERS UNDER MY BED")

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