The Joy Branch project explores different user interfaces to allow parrots to shape their sonic environment. Animal agency—control of the environment—is an important and underutilized element of captive care. Parrot species are vocal learners, and as such are highly attuned to their sonic environment. Much of their brains are involved in the production and analysis of sound, and yet their sonic environment in managed care does not provide a rich experience. In this project, we assess the efficacy of new enrichment techniques that have the potential to improve the lives of these birds through music. The project involves the placement of sonic enrichment elements into the birds’ enclosures under controlled and supervised conditions.
The "joystick branch" element exposes only a standard wooden perch to the birds. The aim is to create naturalistic interactive methods for birds to generate sounds, and to assess their optional engagement with these new modes of control.