A Little Bird Talk
Friday, December 18, 2009
My friend, Cindy Senior (DAYHIKER), just inspired me to write about my incredible and adorable and sometimes trying birds. There's so much to say; where do I begin?
Our birds are 5 years old. My husband saw a Quaker Parrot at a local petstore, and suddenly decided he wanted a bird. I told him that I don't like birds. Like anything he wants, he talked about it day and night. I have a cousin in Michigan who breeds Blue Hyacinth Macaws, so I gave him a call to inquire about bird ownership. He recommended, since we wanted a bird that talks, either a Double-Yellow Headed Amazon, or an African Grey. So we started reading everything we could get our hands on to learn about them, and to help make a decision as to whether we really wanted one or could handle one. Bryce wanted the African Grey, I was swinging toward the Amazon.
So... we went to the Aviary when they had babies. Oh, wonderful! They had one of each! That would give us a chance to handle and compare each of them. We came home with both. Oh, no. They told us they could live in the same cage. NOT. That only lasted a short time. They're both Parrots, but they're different kinds of parrots. So they squabbled and we didn't want anyone to get hurt, so we bought another cage. The both have big cages, which is really important. Then we bought a playstand for them to eat and play on. Then we bought one of those playstands that looks kind of like a tree. Then we bought them toys, which they can destroy in a day. (Did I mention that these are my daughter's only inheritance, because after owning and caring for the birds, we will never have another dime to our name?).
After watching the birds play, while we were still trying to come up with names that we both agreed on, we thought that the Amazon looked and acted like a little girl, and the African Grey, who was always hanging upside down and was a little ham, looked and acted like a boy. So, even before the DNA testing, we gave them their names. Cozumel (Cozzie for short) for the Amazon and Montego (Tigger for short) for the African Grey. DNA results confirmed what we already new. Cozzie's a female, and Tigger's a male.
Cozzie started talking within the first two weeks. Tigger did not start talking until he was a year old, which is normal for African Greys. After less than two years, we counted all the words that they said, and it was well over 100 words each.
Cozzie is a little sweetie, very gentle and tidy. She eats over her bowl so all the scraps fall into her bowl. She chews up toys at a slower pace than Tigger. When she talks, she kind of has that "canned noise" quality to her tone. She's a momma's girl through and through.
Tigger is a little wild boy. He's a climber, curious, adventuresome, and can take a toy apart faster than lightening speed. He prefers to dismantle toys rather than destroy them. If you ever get a knot in your shoe, send it down. There's no knot that Tigger can't untie! Tigger is not a cleanly eater. He loves to rummage through the bowl and fling anything he's not interested in. Because of this, I started saying "Tigger's a pig" every time I walked past his cage. He is very proud of the fact that he's a pig, and often tells us that he's a pig. One night my husband was doing the daily sweeping around Tigger's cage, and my husband said to me "Say it Momma". So I said "Tigger's a pig" and Tigger said "Thank you!".
One of our funniest stories, albeit a little traumatic, was one time when Tigger was screaming. Wh isolate the birds when they're needing "time out" and we call it "going to jail". They are moved to a travel cage in the guest bedroom for a few minutes. This usually does the trick, because birds like to be with their flock. Anyway, Bryce told Tigger if he didn't stop screaming, he was going to have to go to jail. We had company, and Tigger was compelled to keep the spotlight on himself, so he kept screaming. Bryce went to get him out of his cage and Tigger nailed him, which didn't make Bryce too happy. Bryce kept chasing him around his cage, to no avail. All the books we read said to never back down. So, for the first time ever, Bryce tried to follow advice he'd read which said to get a perch stick and force them to step up onto it if they're trying to bite. So Bryce was chasing him around his cage with the stick. That was the traumatic part. Tigger was scared to death and was screaming his head off, flitting all over the place. I asked Bryce to stop, but he felt that he must remain (remain????) in control. Bryce was yelling "Come on! Come on!" Right about then, Tigger back into a corner, ruffled his feathers in preparation to do battle, and yelled back "Come on!". I started laughing hysterically and said "It sounds like a bar room brawl!". All tension went out the window. Oh, and it merits noting that Tigger won the fight and remained in his cage.
Both birds sing the entire "Happy Birthday" song, only they sing "Happy Bird Day". They also sing the chorus from "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".
When we leave for work in the morning, they say "Gotta go to work. Buh-bye. Love you." (This is said in southern accent, mimicking Bryce by Tigger.) When we come in after work Tigger says "Daddy's home!" and Cozzie says "Hi birdies!".
Tigger imitates people's voices to a tee. He also makes the beep of the answering machine, a different beep from the microwave, and the sound of a can of coke opening. You know when you stick out your tongue and go "plllbbbbttt"? He does that, too. I can't figure out how he does that without lips!
Well, I think this is good enough for Chapter One. Someday I'll write more about some of their crazy antics. I hope you've enjoyed this!