17Birds of a Feather Video-Flock Together: Design and Evaluation of an Agency-Based Parrot-to-Parrot Video-Calling System for Interspecies Ethical Enrichment
Over 20 million parrots are kept as pets in the US, often lacking appropriate stimuli to meet their high social, cognitive, and emotional needs. After reviewing bird perception and agency literature, we developed an approach to allow parrots to engage in video-calling other parrots. Following a pilot experiment and expert survey, we ran a three-month study with 18 pet birds to evaluate the potential value and usability of a parrot-parrot video-calling system. We assessed the system in terms of perception, agency, engagement, and overall perceived benefits. With 147 bird-triggered calls, our results show that 1) every bird used the system, 2) most birds exhibited high motivation and intentionality, and 3) all caretakers reported perceived benefits, some arguably life-transformative, such as learning to forage or even to fly by watching others. We report on individual insights and propose considerations regarding ethics and the potential of parrot video-calling for enrichment.