One reason people want parrots is that they love the idea of a talking bird. To me, this means they don’t know enough about parrots, they will get frustrated quickly, and the poor creature will end up being rehomed early on. I try to educate people about the situation, but most don’t think I know what I am talking about.
Don’t get a parrot because you want a pet that talks. Get a parrot because you love birds. Because you understand there will be screaming. You understand that their role in the wild is to scatter seeds and partially eaten fruits so that other animals in the lower forest or jungle can have some. And because you understand that they are social creatures, you will be their flock, and you will need to take steps to not become a mate.
I’ll look at more of those topics in weeks to come, but for now, I want to share some adventures in talking birds with you. My credentials are two African gray parrots, one double yellow Amazon, an Indian ringneck, conures of various sorts, and a budgie.
Sex doesn’t really determine which birds will talk, but it seems more likely that males will do so. Just as with canaries and many finches, you have a male if the bird sings. But my CAG is female, and she talks pretty well. She also learns new words and sounds all the time.
Bo Dangles can do my voice so well that sometimes I think I said something. No wonder my husband has issues with this. When I leave the room, she can say things in my voice that sound like I spoke from another room. She asks for water, apple, and “corny” but not as often as when she first came to us. Maybe we’re doing better at keeping up with her demands. Her best voice is when Maynard, the Amazon, is screaming or being unhappy in a loud way. She’ll say, “Alright, alright, alright, KNOCK IT OFF!”
Sadly, Maynard never listens. He’s a sweet bird with me, most of the time. He’ll start his usual patter when he sees me. “Good morning, how are you? Hi, Maynard. Pretty bird! Pretty bird Mayard.” when he wants some of our food, he asks, “Want a cracker?” Sometimes he conflates How are you with want a cracker so we hear “Howard Cracker?”
When Maynard wants me to be near him, which is almost all the time, he will call, “Mama!” over and over. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he shouts, “Help! Help!” So far, none of the neighbors have taken action like calling the police on the noisy bird.
Currently, Maynard has trouble pronouncing his Ts. So he says, Ilda when he wants the dog to come over and get bitten. Tilda hasn’t fallen for it. Maynard isn’t good like Bobo is at sounding like a person.
Maynard gets out time on a cage on the patio while I clean and feed and water the outside birds. He’s not always crazy loud but usually he is. However, he has competition from Wraith, the Indian ringneck parakeet. Wraith and Orion are outside in a smallish aviary with a nest box. They laid one egg that never hatched, and Orion hasn’t gone back in to the nest since I pulled the egg. Wraith learned to say his name, Pretty Bird, and Oh! Followed by a scream and knocking his beak on the cage. I’m so lucky the neighbors like the birds.
Blind Io is the best at sound effects. He does whistles, chirps, coos, and dog whimpers. Mike was excited one morning because our temporary turaco, Mort, was calling really loud. Once he went out of the bedroom and into the office, he realize Io was talking back to Mort.
When we first brought Io home, he did wheezing and whining like overweight pugs, two of which had been in the house he came from. He also said “Whoop-oh!” which we have never figured out the meaning of. He doesn’t do those so much these days. However, he did learn to make kissing sounds, especially at night when we are tucking everyone in. Going on sound alone, he’s a really good kisser.
At the last bird club meeting, I donated one of my parakeet chicks to the auction. A friend ended up bidding for him and took him home. I think he’s male because he started talking or trying to but only when no one was watching him. I can’t wait to find out if he is still talking now that he is in a new environment. And I learned, much to my surprise that female parakeets can learn to talk as well.
I’m probably doing a very poor job of convincing you that a talking parrot is not for you. These guys sound like fun and nothing I say can convey the mess, the smell, and the noise that comes along with even one bird. Even one small parakeet. I just hope you will let me say “I told you so” if your relationship with your bird is not all you ever imagined.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.