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Still Waters

These captive parrots developed new dialects

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Still Waters

Today the squawks, shrieks, and whistles of parrots reverberate through the rainforest of Puerto Rico. But a few decades ago, these sounds almost disappeared.

Deforestation had taken its toll on Puerto Rican parrots. Before European colonization in the 1500s, their population was estimated at a million. By the 1970s, as few as 13 Puerto Rican parrots were left in the wild, confined to one of the island’s only remaining forest patches, the El Yunque.

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,


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A lost parrot with a cockney accent in the Puerto Rican rainforest... Just imagine that... 


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