November 10, 2008 12:00 PM

by Irene M. Pepperberg

REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT

MEMOIR

Hoping to replicate chimp language studies with birds, scientist Pepperberg chose African gray parrot Alex as her subject in 1977. Here, in loving detail, she recalls their journey. Alex’s brain was the size of a walnut, but he won fame for his ability—comparable to a 5-year-old’s—to know and say colors and numbers. A fascinating look at animal intelligence, Pepperberg’s tale is also a love story between beings who sometimes “squabbled like an old married couple” but whose bond broke only with Alex’s death at 31 in ’07. Irresistible.

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