The Birds of Play (2020)

The story of the world's smartedt parrot

Director: Upamanyu Das
Producer: The Wild Bits, University of Otago
Narrator: William Ray
Music: Chris Zabriskie, Podington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions
Camera: Upamanyu Das, Matthew Goodman, Corey Mosen, Nicolas Verlhiac
Edit: Upamanyu Das


In the mountains to South of New Zealand, lives a parrot smarter than any other. Surviving in one of the toughest environments of the Southern Alps, the Kea is a hustler. Through millions of years of evolution, they have developed unique skills to survive in this unforgiving environment.

Research from the University of Auckland, suggests that the Kea can perform tasks which was previously thought only doable by apes. The newest paper on their intellect, also suggests that the Kea’s intelligence is flexible and domain-general.

When I first came across Amalia’s research, I was very intrigued by the extent of Kea intelligenge. I was interested to make a film exploring the evolution of their minds, and how they compare with our closest ancestors, the great apes. In this film I have tried to explore the Kea’s intellect through the research of Amalia Bastos & Lydia McLean.