FLIP THE CUP - 5 minutes Does your bird show initiative?
This is a view-of-the-world test. Your bird must be able to understand that even though an object disappears from view, it still exists. If the treat has a strong smell, the test would not be conclusive, because scent would give away its position.
What do I need?
A plastic cup or box
A pet treat or toy that isn't too smelly
The walkthrough below describes the stages of the test:
Step 1: Let your bird see you place the treat on the floor
Step 2: Place the cup or box over the treat.
Step 3: How does your bird react?
Step 4: Can it knock the cup over to get to the treat?
A - Bird flips cup or box over
B - Bird shows interest in cup or box, but gives up
C - Bird completely ignores cup or box
If option A - Your bird understands what psychologists call "object permanence". It realises that objects continue to exist even after they have disappeared from view. This is cleverer than you may imagine. To understand this, it must believe in a world beyond its perception.
If option B - Your bird shows signs that it understands that the treat still exists under the vessel. This could be because it can still smell the treat, or it could be because it still imagines it to be there. The latter takes some thought and your bird is being fairly smart. You might also consider trying the test with another vessel or on another surface in case it was just to difficult to flip over.
If option C - Your bird has shown that it doesn't understand the idea that an object exists when it isn't perceived. For many birds this is a natural response, it takes a leap of imagination to picture a world beyond the one that we see in front of us. We humans act the same way until we are about 9 months old.