Do Other Animals Name Their Children?

Parrots, dolphins and possibly whales name their offspring with unique calls that stay with them for the rest of their lives. Parrot parents name their chicks with specific calls before the chicks can even chirp back to them. Even when the chicks become adults, other parrots they encounter can learn and use these calls. The calls are used to identify their mates and their family members, though individual parrots might tweak their calls or "names" slightly throughout their lives.

More facts about animals naming their children:

  • Bottlenose dolphin parents name their children much the same way as parrots do, with signature whistles. The dolphins can recognize calls or names even when they are produced by an unfamiliar sound source, such as a computer-generated recording.

  • Research suggests that naming serves a purpose in both parrot and dolphin social structures, helping the animals identify their family members and mates when flocks or schools change members.

  • Whales might also have names for each other. When sperm whales are hunting, they make clicking sounds that appear to be names. Individual whales appear to have unique, personal ways of starting conversations, using specifically timed patterns of clicks when they begin to interact.
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