Numbers 35:30
“Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.”

Should a parrot be allowed to testify at a murder trial if the bird appears to be an ear-witness to the crime? That’s a question that is ruffling the feathers of animal experts and legal eagles alike!

African grey parrotAfter all, African grey parrots are very intelligent. They can speak with enormous vocabularies, and they even demonstrate inferential reasoning, reports Live Science. The problem is – people aren’t sure if Bud, the parrot, is repeating a conversation he heard during an actual murder or something he heard on television.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the parrot has been saying in a man’s voice, “Get out,” followed by a woman’s voice saying, “Where will I go?” Then, in a man’s voice, “Don’t – expletive deleted – shoot!” The prosecuting attorney said he wasn’t aware of a precedent allowing a parrot into a trial, but he would look into whether Bud’s testimony could be presented as admissible evidence.

Most experts doubt that Bud can give reliable testimony. According to Harvard psychologist Irene Pepperberg, “Basically, the issue is whether a parrot can learn a phrase that it has heard only once.” She added, however, that “the only evidence that a bird could learn a phrase heard once, under stress, comes from [the deceased] Nobel Laureate Konrad Lorenz.”

So what do you think? Personally, I don’t think the parrot should be allowed to testify. I mean, how do you swear in a parrot?

Prayer: Oh Lord, parrots are such amazing creatures. Let me always praise You for the many wonders You have created! Amen.


Author: Steven J. Schwartz
Ref: Laura Geggel, “Polly Says What?! Should Parrots Testify at Murder Trials?” Live Science, 6/30/16. Photo: African grey parrot (not Bud). Courtesy of L.Miguel Bugallo Sánchez. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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