What Does the Duck Say? Study Shows Australian 'Talking' Ducks Can Imitate Speech

Musk Duck  - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.09.2021
It appears that in the pantheon of animals some are capable of keeping a conversation going, including parrots, hummingbirds, seals, and several others.
Australian musk ducks are capable of imitating human speech, according to a new study by Australian scientist Dr Peter Fullagar and a colleague from Leiden University in the Netherlands, Professor Carel ten Cate, published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Per the study, one duck has been recorded mimicking the line "you bloody fool" - or, as another decryption suggests, "you bloody food". This is the first incidence of a "talking" duck having been documented imitating human speech.

"Vocal learning is a rare and special trait, so that makes this duck particularly special", said Carel ten Cate, as cited by the New Scientist. "When I first heard these stories I thought, 'Oh this must be a really good joke'. But actually they come from respected scientists and birdkeepers, and the reports are very reliable".

According to the outlet, the ducks accumulate the sounds they hear around them from a very young age. Ripper - which is the name of the "talking" duck - was recorded apparently mimicking a catchphrase heard from a former caretaker.
Per the researchers, there are at least two other ducks with similar skills, even though there are no recordings yet to prove it. Ten Cate also suggested that the talent to imitate sounds might have evolved independently in several groups of birds.
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