Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Michael Goodrich


Two Orange-winged Amazon Parrots, (Amazona amazonica) were subjected to operant conditioning involving three tests: two-choice spatial discrimination and reversal, three-choice color discrimination and reversal, and the oddity principle. Results of the habit reversal tests were compared to those of Gossett (1968) to determine the phylogenetic ranking of the learning capabilities of psittacines. In the first two habit reversal tests, the subjects completed twenty reversals using sunflower seeds as positive reinforcements. In the oddity principle test, the parrots completed the equivalent of 20 reversals, again using sunflower seeds. Criterion was met when they completed 8 consecutive correct choices with 11 out of the last 12 correct. As Gossett did not attempt the oddity principle, results of this test were compared to those of Warren (1960).

Results of the discrimination and reversal tests were quite similar to those obtained by Gossett in his study of another species of Amazon Parrot. The birds conditioned rapidly but failed to form a learning set in all instances and could not generalize the oddity principle. when comparing the results of that test to those obtained by Warren.

These results substantiate those obtained by Gossett and show remarkable similarity in the learning capabilities of the psittacines. With regard to phylogenetic ranking, these birds do not perform as well as passerines, but superior to the other species tested by Gossett.