Yes, Parrots Do Talk!

And they tell you what they want and when you are not doing it.  Rob and I do not have human children, but are “owned” by some feathered ones. No, this is not a mistake; we belong to them and were put on earth to fulfill all their desires daily – at least that is their position.

Actually, we have been Dog Owners/Lovers all of our lives and owned two German Shepherds at the time;  But on a trip to Disneyworld, Rob and I were entranced by a Cockatoo performance while waiting in line outside of the Rainforest Café. Upon returning to Dallas, we began reading about Cockatoos and visiting local exotic pet stores. Before you know it, a large, white Cockatoo spotted us and decided to join our flock. Over the course of the next couple years, we acquired a Scarlet Macaw, a Rose-Breasted Cockatoo and a Parakeet.  Below is a brief description of our little flock:

Sasha_edited-2Sasha is an 18 yr. old Greater-Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. Although they originate in Australia, she was bred in the US. We’re her first owners and she is the alpha bird of the group. Although her vocabulary consists of only about 6 or 7 words or phrases, she understands everything you say and has no trouble making her wants known. She’s quite socialized and enjoys riding in the car, visiting Starbuck’s, the Dairy Queen or any other place she might get attention. She also knows my name and will say “Hello Catherine” on the phone. She also prefers to be blown dry when wet.

Sasha will also tell you what kind of Bird she is. Just ask, and she will respond, “Cockatoo”, very clearly.  Sasha will also spread her wings if you tell her, “Big Wings”.

Calvin_edited-2Another Australian parrot, Calvin, is a 12 yr. old Rose-Breasted Cockatoo, also known as a Galah.  Very plentiful in Australia, farmers will shoot at them as they perceive them to be pests who will eat their crops. In reality, they make great pets, as they don’t require as much attention as most cockatoos and are content to sit with you for hours on end. Calvin can say things like “What a Cal”, “Peekaboo” and “Okay”, but his specialty is tricks, some of them self-taught. While sitting on my shoulder, Calvin copied my hammering with his beak – he even makes a noise and touches my shoulder with each hit.

Calvin also loves games, especially “catch”.  We toss Calvin rolled-up socks and he catches and throws them. When he finishes a round, he proudly struts back and forth collecting his praises.

Gandalf_edited-2Named for the wizard in “The Hobbit”, Gandalf has gorgeous colorful feathers and adores showers. Scarlet Macaws come from tropical South America where they are on the endangered species list. He was born in the US and we actually got him from Tropical Kingdom in Tucson. He’s a character who loves getting into our belongings, flying upside down on his hoop and opening Sasha’s water holder and tossing her dish onto the floor. Although good-natured and fun-loving, Macaws are not for the novice bird lover as they tend to be willful and are capable of making a lot of noise.

He has a much larger vocabulary than the cockatoos and can continue to learn words as long as you are willing to work with him. He knows Rob’s name and does not hesitate to use it whenever he wants something, much to Rob’s dismay. He is 10 yrs. old and will most likely outlive us.

Wycliffe is unique in that he was born in our home along with another parakeet. His mother passed away from a brain tumor, DSC00127_edited-1leaving the dad to raise the 2 chicks. We kept all 3 of them for a while until it became clear that the father and female chick were becoming a pair. As they were both white, we ended up placing them with a breeder who wanted to raise white budgies. Wycliffe is a brilliant blue like his mother and enjoys being an only child. He doesn’t talk, but will sit on our finger and seems happy to be one of our flock.  Wycliffe believes he is a “Big Bird” like the other Parrots (Yes, Parakeets, which are actually called Budgerigars, are Parrots) and he wants to participate in everything.

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What are the unique traits that define a Parrot? The Hook Bill, of course, is one that everyone is aware of. The other trait is their feet as there are two talons in the front and two in the back. As you may recall, most birds have three talons in the front. This allows parrots to stand on one leg and use their other Talon for stepping on your hand or holding food.  Parrots actually stand on one leg while they are sleeping. They turn their head around and tuck it under their wing.

Parrots are extremely intelligent with the IQ of a 3 year-old child. They love humans, but require special diets and lots of attention. There’s nothing sadder than a parrot alone in a cage with no toys and nothing to do. Before you buy one of these exquisite creatures, please invest some time learning about how to take care of them. Losing their home is extremely upsetting to parrots and can result in behavior problems which can last throughout their lives. Having said that, we’d never part with ours and love being a part of their lives.