My birds don’t talk a lot, with the exception of Libby, my quaker, who won’t shut up. The problem is, she only has one thing to say, and says it over and over until I finally have to leave the room having run out of ways to respond to “How ya doin’?”. Still, every once in a while, one of them will come with a doozie.
I used to come home from work everyday to a familiar: “Hi. How doin’?” from Linus, my umbrella cockatoo. Now it has become: “Hi birrrrd!”, sometimes stretching the “R’s” out for several seconds. I don’t have any idea where this came from. I have never called him “bird”. I imagine I should be flattered and feel like a real, card carrying member of the flock. The good news is that this phrase doesn’t get Libby off and running with hers.
Linus is a good bird, but we have experienced a couple of rough patches. He is a bit edgy at times, and I am careful to approach him appropriately in certain situations. He has always been a little nesty, so when he found his way into the corner or his paper bag I would reach carefully for him and say “Be a good boy. Don’t bite me.” During one period, when he was being down right testy, I found myself saying: “Be a good boy. Don’t you bite me.” more often. One night I reached for him and said: “Be a good boy.” and he said “Bite me.” You have to love a bird that issues his warnings verbally.
I had been working with Libby on animal sounds some time ago. I would say: “What’s a kitty say?”, and she would respond with an ear piercing “meow”. She made the cutest croaking sound when asked: “What’s a froggie say?”. We were currently working on ‘rooster’ when I decided to see how Linus would do with the same training.
It was cage cleaning day and I stuck him in a carrier while I cleaned and I worked with him on animal sounds. He loved it when I shouted ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’. The carrier would shake from him bouncing up and down, but he wouldn’t repeat anything back. When I had put him back in his cage and was working on Theo’s, he shouted ‘cock-a-too-doo” and I almost fell over. Of course, he didn’t say it again and probably never will, but boy was it funny!
I think my favorite ever story comes compliments of two blue and gold macaws owned by a young married couple I knew in Austin. I was visiting with them in their kitchen and the birds were on a huge play stand that occupied, well, most of the room. The house rules were that while the birds were in the kitchen, the dogs weren’t allowed in, and vice versa.The dogs were napping on the sofa in the living room. Birds being birds, however, the macaws were not to fond of following rules. They had devised their own little game.
One bird would, in the wife’s voice, call the dogs to the kitchen by name: “Here Trixie! Here Dingo!” The other bird, in the husband’s voice would yell at them to get out: “BAD DOGS!”. They had the dogs running back and forth for about 30 minutes. The owners just shook their heads while I laughed uncontrollably. Apparently, this goes on frequently.
What are some of your favorite stories?
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.