Death of a Parrot


This is mostly for Martine, but according to slashdot, Alex the African Grey has died at the age of 31 (young, apparently). Coincidently, Martine and I were talking about him when she was visiting back in August. For those not aware, Alex is one of the parrots Martine worked with at the MIT Media Lab, training them to surf the Internet. (Remember when the media lab had so much money that they’d fund just about anything?)
I visited Martine there a few times and met Alex. I was impressed that a parrot could identify a key (when prompted by “What toy?”) and distinguish between wood and metal. He also knew his colors and could count, if I recall. He had a fellow parrot, Wart, who could do many of the same tricks, but it was always clear that Alex was “the smart one.”
Alex and Wart were a big part of why Martine got Jasmine, the quaker parrot who has pooped on me more times than I care to remember. Jasmine isn’t quite as clever as an African grey, but he can at least distinguish between the “hello” wave and the “night night” one. Perhaps in some fowl way (yep, second time in as many posts as I’ve used that pun), Jasmine can carry on Alex’s legacy.


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