Welcome to the Smart Bird Page

Parrots are like pre-school aged- humans in many ways. Lets compare
and learn about human and bird cognitive, perceptual and motor skills.

(I took these photos in Sarasota, Florida's Jungle Garden about  12 years ago.
They are still a lot of fun)

Click on photos for printable pages.

  Developing Standing Balance

bird on balance beam armHuman babies can typically stand while holding onto
furniture or a hand between 6 and 10 months and stand
independently for several seconds between 11 and 14

This bird seems to have very good balance despite the
child's arm movement. The bird also has the balance and
coordination to lift one claw. The typical baby does not
have the balance to stand on one foot until
between 16-17 months.

The child's arm appears to function as a balance beam. Toddlers can typically walk across an eight
inch beam between 17 1/2 and 19 1/2 months and across a four inch wide beam between 3.2
and 3 years.   

Playing Basketball

bird basketballThis bird demonstrates very good eye-beak coordination
to push the ball into a basket. He shows good visual
attention and is easily motivated by an edible treat.

Ball play, of course is also a wonderful activity for
toddlers. It teaches them to coordinate using both
hands together. Toddlers typically learn to
throw a ball underhand while seated between
13 and 16 months. Throwing a ball is much more
challenging while standing and children typically
learn to throw a ball in any manner while standing
between 15 and 18 months. By 18-22 months a
child may be able to plan the movements to
make a ball land within three feet of a target.

Catching a large ball (typically between 24 and 26 months) requires greater coordination between
the visual and motor systems and a good sense of timing to open the arms and receive the ball at
just the right moment. A three- year old may be able to bounce and catch a large ball at least once
while standing in one spot and during the third year learn to bounce the ball while moving
forward. This high level of motor control and eye-hand coordination will help the preschool child
to play basketball like our parrot friend pictured above.

  Riding a Bike

bird riding bicycle
Riding a bicycle is a fantastic  way to coordinate the left and
right sides of the body. It develops motor planning (the
ability to plan and execute novel movement), balance and
most importantly is fun as well as helping us and birds to
keep in good cardiovascular health.
Toddlers often learn to coordinate their legs to propel ride-
on toys and typically learn to ride a tricycle with pedals
between 3.2 and 4.4 years of age. They can maneuver around
obstacles, turn, stop and start. I don't know if this parrot
can do all of that,  but he is pretty impressive on his wheels!

  Climbing and Cycling

bird cyclingI can't remember how this unicycle was set up. But I think I
recall the bird climbing up the steps to reach the wire. Human
kids love to climb and it's a good thing because climbing  provides
a lot of sensory stimulation that helps brain development.

Toddlers typically creep up stairs between 13 and 15 months,
walk up stairs holding one hand between 17-19 months and
can manage to get up the stairs with no adult help (but using
a railing) between 22-24 months. Many two year-olds can walk
upstairs without using a railing or a hand but don't use the
alternating feet method until between 30-34 months.

If this bird were human, he would be climbing jungle gyms and
ladders by the time he was three years of age. Luckily for birds,
they can do these daring feats and just fly off when they lose
their balance.

Fitting Circle, Square and Triangle
Into Form Board

bird form boardThis bird is able to not only "grasp" the shape with his beak
to insert into the board but he can match the shapes to the
corresponding circle, square or triangle openings.  Human
babies typically impress their parents with their eye-hand
coordination and shape matching skills to do the following:

  Balancing on Ball

bird balancing on ballThe parrot is again demonstrating his excellent sensory integration to
balance while rolling  a ball. This activity requires shifting his weight
from side to side as he alternates lifting each foot.

Human children demonstrate their developing balance as they learn to :


bird paintingI guess parrots like to express their artistic talents as much as anyone
else. This bird demonstrates good motor control to grasp the paint
brush with his beak and he understands that the paint must stay
within the border of the paper.

Human children spend several years refining a pencil grasp and
learning how to copy lines, shapes and eventually letters and words.
Here are a few milestones:

  Sorting Rings by Color

bird ring stackThis bird learned to not only stack the rings but to also sort them
according to color. This requires good beak coordination and visual-
perceptual discrimination skills.

Human children typically learn to:


bird skating
This roller skating bird demonstrates very good bilateral
coordination as he alternates moving his left and right sides
forward to skate. He looked relatively stable and did not do anything
other than skate forward. But still that is impressive!

Human children who have good balance and coordination may
be able to learn how to skate once they are steady on their feet at
around 2-3 years of age.
Parents may try giving them a box to hold onto and push while on
the ice, giving more stability and something to hold onto.

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©2009 Barbara Smith

Just like toddlers, parrots can have great rhythm.

Crow Makes a Tool                               Counting and Adding Numbers

Developing Language Skills                    Nesting cups and More