You can’t have secrets when you have parrots. Even when you think they can’t hear you or aren’t listening, you have to be careful about what you say. I’ve learned this the hard way more than once.
I was a bridesmaid at a wedding about a year ago. The bride and groom had been living together for a while, so it was one of those situations where they didn’t need household themed gifts; just money to pay for the honeymoon and their own house. So being somewhat crafty, I decided to make a wishing well for the couple to display at the reception. The idea was that people could drop money in the well instead of buying a gift.
The only problem was that my paper mâché bricks were taking too long to dry. It had been weeks and they still weren’t ready to put together. I was out of time. The birds were safely outside, so I decided to make use of my mother’s microwave. As it turns out, paper mâché bricks explode and catch fire when you put them in the microwave. As it also turns out, this isn’t due to a brick being defective because even if you try it again – they still catch fire. Oops.
If my mother found out what I’d done to her microwave, I’m not sure exactly what her method of killing me would be, but it wouldn’t be pretty. So I carefully cleaned up and made sure there were no traces of what I’d done. I disposed of the scorched fire blanket and spent ages with bleach removing any traces of my accident – or so I’d thought.
Mum came home and asked me what I’d done that day. The answer was a nonchalant: “Nothing much”.
My eclectus Pepi decided to join the conversation at that point by loudly roaring: “Beep Beep Beep CRAP!!!!!
I froze, the little rotter must have heard me, even though he’d been outside.
“That’s funny, he sounds just like the microwave!” said mum. “I wonder why he picked that up?”
“No idea,” I said quickly, giving Pepi my best “Be Quiet!!!” glare.
Fortunately, mum never worked it out (and you guys aren’t going to explain it to her – are you?) That said, it’s a year later and Pepi still roars: “Beep Beep Beep CRAP!!!!” every chance he gets. It wouldn’t shock me if he were privately hoping that mum would work it out. Sometimes, it’s very hard not to throttle him.
Considering this past experience, it shouldn’t have surprised me when mum started nagging me about the safety of my driving the other day. She was angry. She was telling me how dangerous it is to speed and that I should know better. Her sister had died in a car accident and I should have learned from that. Instead, she said she knew I had sped the entire way to the vet the other day. How dare I? It hadn’t even been an emergency – just a checkup!!!
I was annoyed, hot and tired. Not a good combination for me. I snapped. I yelled right back at her (also not a good idea in front of parrots by the way). I’m not a child. I know how to drive and I do not speed. I certainly hadn’t sped to the vet or coming back from the vet. I’d had my navigator attached to the windscreen and it was set to alert me if my speed crept up above the limit by even the tiniest margin. It made a trumpet fanfare noise every time, so that I noticed and could reduce my speed. I knew it was working because I remembered it making the noise. I informed her that her nagging was becoming too much and what would make her think I’d been speeding anyway????
I paused for breath, ready to yell again and then I heard it: a perfect trumpet fanfare coming loudly from Otto my musk lorikeet. He had picked up a new favorite noise from the vet trip and was using it to convince mum that I had been speeding.
“I can’t believe you’d believe the parrot over me!” I said crossly.
Of course, it was at this point that Pepi decided to join the argument.
“Time you went to the home!” he yelled happily, while mum turned progressively redder in anger.
I guess he has overheard one too many arguments where I’ve threatened to commit my mother to a nursing home for being senile. Meanwhile, mum is still yelling at me for teaching him that. Imagine if her boss visits and Pepi says that to him! It could almost be as bad as when he said: “You’re old!!!” to my age-sensitive aunt at Christmas! Apparently I need to teach my birds some manners. Hmmmm.
Like I said, there’s no secrets around parrots.
If you’re interested in teaching your parrot to talk, check out the Talking on Cue Parrot Course!
Mel Vincent works as an animal rehabilitator out of Australia.