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Bill covering and nape feather ruffling as indicators of calm states in the Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)

Abstract : Parrots are highly social birds that are recognized for their primate-like cognitive abilities but their way to express emotions remain overlooked. Herein we explored potential facial indicators of emotions in cockatoos. We predicted that facial feather ruffling is an indicator of a cockatoo's emotional state and hypothesized that specific facial feather positions would be present more during positive valence and low arousal situations. We observed feather position on the crest, cheek and nape during the daily routine of a group of five captive, non-breeding, Sulphur-crested cockatoos. The data show that cheek and nape feather ruffling occurred significantly more during activities associated with low arousal levels and positive valence such as maintenance behaviours, positive and quiet social contact and resting. Our data suggest that ruffling feathers over the bill (i.e. cheek feather ruffling) and nape ruffling may provide visual indicators of calm/relaxed states in cockatoos. Subtle movement of facial feathers may be an effective close-ranged visual signal to communicate birds' affective states or their intention to engage in specific activities. This work provides a novel approach to assessing the positive welfare of captive cockatoos and to understanding emotional communication in non-mammalian species.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03151161
Contributor : Eric Marchoux <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 3:01:39 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - 10:38:29 AM

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Aline Bertin, Arielle Beraud, Léa Lansade, Baptiste Mulot, Cécile Arnould. Bill covering and nape feather ruffling as indicators of calm states in the Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita). Behavioural Processes, Elsevier, 2020, 178, pp.1-5. ⟨10.1016/j.beproc.2020.104188⟩. ⟨hal-03151161⟩

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