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Budgie parakeets > Talking birds > Parrot stories
"I cannot say how the truth may be; I tell the tale as 'twas told to me."
Many times parrots will speak in such an intelligent manner as to attract attention and cormment. I had a gray parrot some time ago which one day was whistling continually. Finally I said, "Pedro, quit your whistling and talk a while. It instantly replied, "All right." and began repaetating almost every word and and sentence that it knew. We had also one large scarlet Macaw and a blue Macaw which we kept on perches on opposite sides of the room. They used to talk to each other considerably, but never been put together on the same perch. One day we put the blue one over on the other's perch. It said "hello" at ance and then began biting the red Macaw. After one particularly vicious bite, the red Macaw said, "Cut it out", and climbed down on the tray to get away.
A well-known major of the German army owned a gray parrot and wanting to teach her some new tricks held a stick out to the bird, saying: "Polly, get on the stick." The parrot evidently was in a bad mood and could not be induced to obey orders. Suddenly she laughed loud and hearty, as though highly amused over her own smartness and said: "Major, get on the stick."
A French writer states that he heard a parrot say the Lord's Prayer very plainly while lying on its back with the toes of its feet together, like we join our hands in the act of prayer.
Brem tells of a parrot which could talk in three languages, making up sentences she never heard before and using one or two words of another language that fitted the occasion.
There are many instances which show the remarkable intelligence of parrots and inclines one to believe that they are really thinking birds. One incident of an exceptionally clever specimen is told by Pierre Souplet. He had taught Polly to use the words, "cupboard" and "ladder," and as he climbed the latter 'he had succeeded in inducing the bird to articulate the word "climb." Every day when the bird was brought into the laboratory a small cupboard was opened and Polly helped himself to hemp seed. One day, however, instead of the cupboary being placed where she could reach it, it was hauled up near the ceiling, and the ladder was placed among several other articles in the corner of the room. The question to he decided was whether the bird seeing that the cupboard was out of Mr. Souplet's reach, would have sufficient intellifence to use words it knew in their proper sequence. The first dav's experiment was a failure. The parrot screeched "cupboard," "cupboard," beating its wings and biting the bars of its cage in anger, but it got no farther. That day the bird received millet which it did not care for; the hemp seed, which it was very fond of being locked up in the cupboard. Next day Polly was in a greater temper than ever, and after a desperate effort to break through the bars of her cage, she finally caught sight of her cupboard near the ceiling. Instantly came the words, "Ladder-climb-cupboard," and Polly having learned her lesson, the cupboard was brought down and she was rewarded with some hemp seed. Mr. Souplet says that he regards this incident as a proof of the association of ideas in the bird's mind, as no one had ever taught the parrot the phrase she used.
An English woman owned a parrot which would say: "Polly wants something to eat." If she did not receive what she asked far, at once, she exclaimed: "But Polly must and will have something to eat." If she still received nothing, she flung everything about to show her angeer. Per self approbation she expressed by saying: "Ah! ha! how lovely Polly is!" at the same time stroking her beak with her claws.
Mr. Dettrich writes: "It is very amusing to see Pally call the hens together, in imitation of my wife, and she then gave us no peace till she received a bit of bread, with which she took her seat an the window ledge, breaking it up and throwing dawn the crumbs. The running of the hens after the crumbs seemed to afford her the greatest amusement."
There is an amusing anecdote of a parrot which had picked up some nautical phrases. One day some ladies were paying a visit to the ship, and were hoisted on deck by means of a rope passing through a block on the yardarm, and attached to the chair on which the lady sits. Two or three had been safely brought on deck, and the chair had just been hoisted out of the boat again with its fair freight, when the parrot on board sudd-enly shouted out: "Let go!" The sailors who were hauling up the rope instantly obeyed the supposed order of the boatswain, and away went the poor lady, chair and all, into the water.
A gentleman, who traveled much abroad, brought home with him by sea, two pets, a monkey and a parrot. This bird had a great faculty for imitating the human voice and human language. On several occasions storms arose, and the sailors had to rush here and there, to seize upon the ropes and rails, and their language was not always most select. An expression that they continually used was that they were having, let me say, a high time of it. After our traveler got home he used often to have his two pets in his room with him, the one without a chain, the other outside its cage, and these pets were generally on the best of terms, but still he always took care before leaving the room to secure them apart for fear of accidents. One day, however, being hurriedly called away, he left them for a short time to themselves in the room, and when he came back what was his horror when he say the monkey sitting on the sofa with his face bleeding and both his eyes picked out, and in the middle of the floor nothing but a bundle of feathers, all that remained of the parrot! He looked around in vain for the bird, but after a little while the wretched creature walked out from under the sofa in all its nakedness, looked up in his face and said, "We've been having a high time of it."
A mischievous parrot was fond of plaguing the family dog. Finally faithful Fido made the feathers fly. Fido lay down to sleep and Polly, much disheveled, shook his head gravely and said., "The trouble with me is I talk too much."
There has been a good deal said about swearing parrots, but although the writer has had several thousand parrots in his possession at different times, we have never had one which used profanity. The old idea of parrot swearing comes from the African Gray parrots. They are usuually brought to this country on sailing vessels, being sometimes several months enroute from Africa, and the sailors amuse themselves by teaching them to swear and sing vulgar songs. There
are very few gray parrots kept as pets in America compared to the number of Mexican birds.
The Mexican parrots almost invariably come by train and it requires only three or four days from the time they leave Mecixo until they reach the leading cities of this country.
Many amusing anecdotes are related of these birds. Some that are quite marvelous, particularly such as relate to seemingly appropriate answers which they have made to questions asked them, which the authors imply were dictated by intelligence. We cannot consider these in any other light than accidental circumstances, however. Sometimes the incidents are extremely amusing. A parrot which had been kept on a business street had learned many of the expressions used by teamsters. Frequently when horses attached to wagons had been left standing unhitched, the bird would call out with loud, commanding voice: "Whoa! Back!" and keep repeating it as t'he horse moved backward, till sometimes the wagon was backed over the sidewalk and into serious trouble.
"My parrot," writes one lady correspondent, "is a wonderful bird, and not only has a good memory, but extraordinary powers of connecting sentences with incidents. If anyone knocks at the door she calls `walk in,' and when anyone leaves the room she says `good-bye.' She mews exactly like a cat, and whistles like a locomotive. Her cage is hung out in front of the 'house on warm days, and everyone who passes stops to speak to her, and she takes delight in imitating the various voices. When there are too many children gathered around her she sometimes calls out `get along with you' and they run off."
Another gray parrot, said to be at least fifty years old, is a most accomplished talker, repeating many long sentences. She was kept in a religious family, where they had daily family prayers, and the parrot would always say "amen" at several places during morning prayers, with an air and accent of devotion.
A gentleman who lives in Manchester, England, exhibited a parrot at a special parrot show held in that locality. Several of the birds had exhibited their powers of talking in the prize competition, when at last the cover was removed from the cage of this gray parrot. He looked around and saw the company to which he was suddenly introduced and said: "By Jove! What a lot of parrots," an observation which gained him the prize at once, and certainly spoke volumes for the judicious training lie had undergone, even if he was not accepted as an evidence of the birds' reasoning powers.