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So in this fantasy world there's a region populated by sapient parrots as well as humans. The parrots are equally as intelligent as humans & fully capable of human conversation. The tech level is early modern, so warfare is fought primarily with muskets,cannon, & bayonet.

At least some of the powers in the region are egalitarian enough that parrots in command positions isn't unheard of. Since this is a geographic region rather than a single nation assume most conflicts have parrots on both sides & the militaries operate & strategize accordingly.

Obviously scouts and messengers are the most natural roles for them, but what would be some less obvious ones?

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Trap/mine de-fusing. They are too light to trip most traps, and they can fly over triggers to get to the best spot to defuse stuff.

Rear attack. Obviously it's wonderful to attack your enemy from multiple sides simultaneously, but often it's difficult to 1) get troops in a separate position safely, 2) get troops out of that position safely. Parrots can fly. Even though they are not as strong as humans, being attacked from behind by a parrot is not something you can just ignore, especially if you are also trying to fire your weapon forward somewhat accurately at the same time. (Your enemy will start fortifying their emplacements against this kind of attack, but that's more time they have to spend on something that doesn't directly advance their position, which is still good for you. And if they try to skip that, deploy the winged forces.)

Not just forward scouting, but also sentry duty. It's going to be really hard to stay hidden from sentries who are flying.

Balloonist. Obviously parrots have a hard time carrying something heavy like a large shell full of explosives, and balloons are unreliable in that they tend to go in random directions. But if you harness up a team of parrots to a balloon, they can drag some heavy object out over the enemy, pop the balloon, and give the enemy the middle wing-tip as they fly away. (You might want some kind of safety harness where they can quickly release in case the balloon pops prematurely.)

Range-finder. They are good with wind somehow (not sure this has a factual basis, but we'll go with it) and they have good vision so they are good at figuring out what adjustments to make to artillery in order to actually hit the target. Plus, they can fly, so they can get a much better idea of where it's actually hitting and yell down things like "half a degree to the left and 80 feet further out". (Depending on how early early-modern is, this could even just be ballista or something.)

Less obvious non-combat duties:

Medical. Of course you have parrots working in the field hospitals as regular physicians and nurses, but they're also really valuable as first aid medics on the battlefield. They are really fast, especially if there are debris on the ground in the way, lots of people have had their lives saved by a parrot with some bandages.

Camouflage. They have better color vision than humans, and they can see what they're working on from more angles, and they're more mobile so they can work with multiple groups, moving from place to place as needed. Most camouflage artists are parrots.

Clergy. They're not particularly more effective than humans at this, but they're also not any less effective. (And, as mentioned in another answer, they are much cheaper to feed/house/etc. than a human, so any task where you can swap 1-1 parrot to human, definitely use the parrots.)

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Cartographer/Surveyor

Related to their ability to act as aerial scouts, being able to see terrain from the air also provides them the ability to help map an area and investigate points of interest in peacetime. Having trustworthy maps helps both civil authorities administer their region and helps military forces navigate and plan battles.

Saboteurs

While the carrying capacity of a parrot may not be much, it's enough to carry a few matches to kindle fires in enemy towns / forts / encampments, do the same to enemy ships in a port (wooden ships are highly flammable), deliver a couple of poisoned caltrops, drop something nasty into an enemy well, etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Wooden ships are in fact not highly flammable. Have you ever tried tossing a match on firewood? Nine times out of ten (that's if you're lucky), the match simply burns out. You'd need to drop it on the equivalent of kindling, or gunpowder. $\endgroup$
    – Henry Shao
    Aug 21 '21 at 6:12
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    $\begingroup$ @HenryShao Or tarred rope ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarring_(rope) ) or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailcloth , both of which there is plenty of on a sailing ship. If you search for "wooden ships flammable", there's entry after entry after entry attesting to the dangers of fire on wooden ships in the Age of Sail, e.g. quora.com/How-flammable-were-wooden-ships-tarred-rigging-etc $\endgroup$ Aug 21 '21 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ That too. Lots of flammable things, but honestly just plain wood isn't one of them. You rarely start a fire straight on the wood, but its usually spread from something else. A match on a coil of rope is a lot harder to land considering relative speeds, winds, and rocking of the ship. $\endgroup$
    – Henry Shao
    Aug 21 '21 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ there are birds that move fire bushheritage.org.au/newsletters/2020/winter/fire-birds $\endgroup$
    – Allan
    Aug 21 '21 at 21:47
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Mental support

War veterans are sometimes given an animal to help with their recovery from the war experience. Parrots are incredibly cute and funny animals. Because of their small size they won't need as much food as say a dog. And since parrots can learn to speak, they might be taught to talk with soldiers to relieve stress.

Here is an example of using parrots for retired soldiers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANpg3_oLxFc

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You might count this as just scouting, but feigning scouting can be just as useful. Let your enemies learn that you scout them with your parrots before every assault. Once they've learned your modus operandi, you can now use your parrots in deception. Every time they see one, they will think an attack is coming. So send parrots to targets you have no intent to attack, and they will move their forces to respond to an attack that will never come. Then you attack the real, now-undefended target.

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Translators

During WW2 the US sent some native americans into the field. They would relay info to the base in their native languages, and someone else from the same tribe would translate back to English at HQ. This proved to be better than encrypting the messages: encryption could be broken, but the axis didn't have a single Iroquois translator available.

Your psitacean agents could play a similar role, but using parrot language which would be even harder to decode.


Miner's Canary

Hey, is that gas coming out those grenades poisonous? Let private Polly find out.


Mail pigeons

With the advantage that parrot agents also support voice messaging.


Undermine enemy morale

Few things are as humiliating as being called a loser by a talking bird.

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This sapient species can do any none manual task a human can, why are they limited to this one area in the world unless under some form of slavery/less than human status? If parrots really are of equal intellect to humans then logically she/he could do most any none manual task a human can. From leading an army to a desk clerk or a scientist to a spy.

The parrot people may look different than us but don't mistake a small size for a lack of capability.

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If your parrots can mimic human speech well enough, they could cause chaos in low-visibility scenarios (night, fog, the chaos of combat) by impersonating enemy troops and commanders and shouting out orders.

It would be harder to pull off in pitched battles, but if you have small groups who are operating at night, you might be able to confuse or misdirect them, or even to get them to open fire on each other. Even just flying into an enemy camp under cover of night and then shouting that they're under attack is going to be pretty disruptive.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice idea, welcome to the site Ghost. $\endgroup$ Aug 22 '21 at 11:08
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You don't have military marching bands, you have feathered military choirs

'Let the eagle shriek from lofty peak; The never-ending watchword of our land; Let summer breeze waft through the trees'; ....

ta da, ta da, ta da,

Think of the awe inspiring parades you could have!

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Gunners

At first sight, a parrot is too small to wield a rifle. But, affix the weapon to a cart. Place a gimbal right at the rifle's center of gravity so it is perfectly balanced and can easily swivel up/down and left/right. Because of the balance it then takes very little strength to adjust the aim of the weapon and pull the trigger. Many such parrot rifles can be mounted on a single cart.

Compared to human gunners:

  • Parrots require less food. This makes them cheaper soldiers and makes logistics easier.
  • Parrots are smaller targets, which keeps them safer in a gunfight.

The downside is that the cart-mounted rifle would be somewhat more expensive than a rifle designed to be carried by a human, and not as mobile (a human would be needed to pull/drive the cart). But this may be outweighed by the decreased personnel costs.

Another concept: instead of mounting the parrot rifle on a cart, mount it on a harness on a human soldier, so each human has a parrot on his shoulder adding more firepower.

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They could trigger traps and defensive devices built by humans.

They could forage for food for the army: collecting nuts and fruits.

They could be officers, or other roles that are more intellectual than physical.

While scouting, they can mark trails/ features with some sort of code. Think real life trail markers or shadow marks.

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Leaders and Commanders

Given the parrots have the same abilities to understand tactics and strategy, they have some distinct advantages:

  • they're smaller and less easy to take out
  • they can get an overview of the situation from an aerial perspective
  • if things go awry, they'll have a much better chance of escaping
  • They can more easily get around on the battlefield, no need to cart them there
  • As mentioned elsewhere, they need less food
  • This may sound cruel, but it may be easier for them to keep up a certain emotional detachment and give orders that leads to deaths, due to the humans being another race entirely ( this may differ )
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Blasphemy

Parrots are loud and they are small and they can evade in three dimensions. They can exhaust the Taliban's ammunition while joyfully evangelizing their beliefs.

Bombing runs

Where there are muskets and cannons, there are large, glorious barrels of black powder. Armed with a clawful of leaden darts each equipped with a single perfect ember, the parrot can bring instant despair to the enemy camp.

Eyes

Whenever the enemy would like some shut-eye, it falls to the brave parrot to open it with his talons. But he must be very quick in his unarmed combat, and quick to fly away!

CBW

Parrots don't catch smallpox. They are vulnerable to botulism, but they know better than to eat before they wash up.

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