| As most readers know, I love hearing humorous stories about parrots and I love to tell them! I will add more stories to this section of the website. If you have a great parrot story, I would love to read it!
WATTLED SPACE ALIEN PARROTS
My double yellow
heads, Paco and Rascal, love their morning meal with a passion and always busy
their faces in the bowl only coming up for air when they are satiated. I have
fed all my birds variations of my glop recipe for over fifteen years. The basic
recipe consists of a quality whole grain lightly toasted bread, baked (or baby
food) sweet potatoes (or carrots or winter squash), and low fat plain yogurt
all mashed together until it looks sort of like turkey dressing. However, there
are many glop variations. Sometimes I add the previously mentioned ingredients
to Crazy Corn instead of bread as the base. I may mix in pellets, chopped
broccoli or collard greens, and pieces of well-cooked chicken, hard boiled
egg, and occasionally shredded low fat, low salt cheese. Anything I add has to be something that is healthy and nutritious. I usually
top it off with a sprinkling of an Essential Fatty Acid like Hemp Oil.
All my birds
love their glop but Paco and Rascal make their sweet Amazon pleasure noises the
whole lime they are eating. They are such gluttons that, after eating, their
beaks are covered with globs of glop making them look like some “wattled space
alien parrot.” One day Paco had wiped all of the glop off of her beak but
Rascal just sat there looking like the unkempt partner in the odd couple.
Finally, as if she could no longer tolerate his lack of personal hygiene, she
started mumbling and began to clean the remaining glop off of his face.
The Double-headed Yellow Amazon
The very first newspaper article that was ever written about my work with parrots stated that I lived with a Double Headed Yellow Amazon. A few years later I took a photo of Paco and Rascal in the back yard. I didn't realize how much it looked like a parrot with two heads until I had the photos developed. This was the inspiration for my "tongue-in-Beak sculpture of a Double-headed Yellow Amazon. The article also said that I had an African Amazon parrot. I think that was offensive to my African grey, Bongo Marie. She never did think much about her Amazon parrot siblings.
Juliana Strange is an opera lover.
One of her favorite ways to relax is listening to the New York City Metropolitan
Opera on the radio. Would it surprise anyone that her six year old Yellow-nape
Amazon also enjoys opera? He particularly loves to sing with the sopranos. One
day, Juliana received a phone call from the Met for a contribution to help
continue the radio broadcast. Juliana told the caller that she would be happy
to contribute because she loved opera and so did her parrot. The man calling
misunderstood her to say ‘parents” and asked her it they had taught her to love
opera. Juliana said, “No, I didn’t say my parents - I said my parrot”. The
caller did not seem to understand, so she said, ‘this opera lover is green, has
wings and loves to sing opera!”. After the man still did not respond
appropriately, Juliana instructed her Amazon, “Huey, Sing Opera!” and started
him off with a robust “LA!”. Huey burst into a long involved aria! Finally, the
caller finally caught on and started laughing.
The next day, a woman from the Met called Juliana and told her that Huey was
the talk of the backstage at the Met. She asked Juliana to send her a
photograph of Huey for the performer’s bulletin board and then extended an open
invitation for Huey. She said that he could make a ‘Walk on guest appearance”
at his convenience! Perhaps he could play a role in “Aida” - they could rename
the opera “Huey-da” in the talented Amazon’s honor! So far Juliana has not
accepted. Being a true opera aficionado, she is afraid that Huey would burst
into an aria in the middle of the overture!
CHONGO: PACO AND RASCAL’S DAD
By Sally Blanchard
I have been absolutely devoted to Amazon Parrots for close to four decades. For
most of my life, I have loved and watched birds but my fascination with parrots
started in my late twenties. At the time, I earned my living sculpting birds
out of rare hardwoods and met a wood carver who had about two dozen or more
Double yellow-headed Amazon parrots. Bill and Wilma Fisher set their birds up
for breeding but none of their parrots had cooperated yet. In retrospect, I am
sure the reason they had no chicks was because they had allowed their birds to
choose their own partners. This was before either surgical sexing or the much
safer DNA sexing methods had been devised. The Fishers had placed birds
together according to which birds seemed to like each other. It was not
breeding season and most of the pairs they put together were actually buddies
of the same gender rather than a heterosexual pair.
When the Fishers went out of town for the weekend, I would often check on their
parrots once or twice a day. The Amazons were housed in a very large workshop
area with timed lighting. One afternoon when I came to check on the birds, I
could tell before I even entered the house that something was wrong. The sounds
just weren’t the same. Instead of the normal clucking sounds, it sounded like a
raucous party. Once I opened the door, it only took me only a minute to realize
why. Chongo (I was told this meant monkey — certainly an appropriate name for
this Amazon) had taken the bolts out of the aviary he shared with Charo (Paco and
Rascal’s Mother), and it had collapsed allowing them to escape. Then,
evidently, the clever Chongo had gone around the room undoing several other
cages. Almost everyone was out on top of their cages. I have always thought the
pleasure sounds of Amazons sounded like laughter and everyone was indeed
laughing loudly as I entered the room.
As I attempted
to put the cages back together, the party continued with what seemed to me to
be continuing laughter at my feeble attempt to round up everyone and put them
in the proper cages with the proper partner. Although I knew several of the
birds well enough to know who they were, others all looked alike to me so I did
the best I could. When the Fishers returned, they found that I had created
several new pairings who seemed very happy together. But all the Amazons were
returned to their “proper” cages and mates. A few years later when surgical
sexing became prevalent, the unproductive pairs were tested. Many of them were
the same sex and it turned out that I had put several true pair together after
Chongo’s escape and the Amazon Party.
A ‘flying” game that I used to play with Pixie, my six year old blue-front
Amazon was often observed by my more timid eight year old yellow-nape, Kiwi.
“Whee, wheeee”, I’d exclaim while swinging Pixie to and fro through the air in
a simulated flying adventure.
Kiwi loves riding in the car and we both yell, ““Whee, wheeee’ loudly as I
drive down the street. She seems involved in what the other drivers think but I
just ignore them.
We recently moved to a house high on a hill. During Kiwi’s first time sitting on
her play gym near the picture window, she saw several large hawks flying
outside above and below her. Kiwi excitedly exclaimed, ‘Whee, wheeee! Do
you like it?’
By Terry Hoffer
Rico, our blue-fronted Amazon has given us lots of laughs. Recently he has
caused us some embarrassment. He is our most social bird and just loves when we
have new visitors. His vocabulary is limited but the things that he says are
clear and are said in a childlike voice, similar to my wife’s. I’ve gotten in
the habit of saying ‘Come on out” every time I let him out of his cage and now
this seems to be one of his favorite phrases. In the last year or so, he has
begun to associate “Come on out’ with any sort of knocking sound, especially
someone at the door. He has obviously heard us yell, “Come on in” to visitors
and seems to confuse the two. Rico knows exactly what to say when someone comes
to visit. His high decibel “Come on out’s” begin before people can even get out
of their car. Most visitors don’t seem to notice that he’s not saying “Come on
in.” Because Rico’s greeting is so loud and clear, some people open the door
and come in the house before they realize that it is a bird talking to them.
When the UPS man comes, he just stands outside and laughs until I come and Open
the door. The last time he delivered a package, he said, “Boy, he sure would be
hard to sneak up on!’
Another good laugh came when my older brother, Steve, told us about his
experience with Rico. Evidently, we were not home one day when Steve stopped by.
Seeing one of our cars in the driveway, he knocked on the door. Of course, Rico
gave him permission to enter in his usual manner. Steve tried to turn the knob
and found the door locked. Knocking again and again only produced another
volley of “Come on outs”. It was only after Steve lost his patience and yelled,
“I can’t, the door is locked!” that he realized he had been duped by a bird!
The most embarrassing incident occurred one day when I was alone in the house.
I had just stepped out of the shower and clad only in a towel, I walked into
the living room. There on the couch, sat my in-laws! I don’t know who was more
shocked! They said that they had heard my wife yell. “Come on in!” They just
came in and sat down figuring that she must be in the kitchen and would come in
momentarily. It was only when they saw me that they realized that she wasn’t
even home and it must have been the bird! I don’t know how long they had been
sitting there … I’m just glad that I grabbed that towel!
When Paco, my double-yellow head Amazon, was a “bappy”, I had a good friend who
was terrified of birds. My guess is that Sara had seen Hitchcock’s The Birds one too many times. She wouldn’t even come into my house because of
her phobia. One day she told me that she felt her fear was ridiculous and she
wanted to get to know Paco, because everyone else was in love with her. The
first time she came in the house, Paco’s cage was covered. The next time I
uncovered the cage but the door was shut. Gradually, I brought Paco closer and
closer to her until Sara was actually allowing the friendly little Amazon to
sit on her knee. Alter a few weeks of her getting used to Paco, they became
very good friends. In fact, Sara often called and invited Paco for dinner. Of
course, she would add that I could also come since I would have to bring the
gregarious parrot. When we arrived, there was a special place setting for Paco.
She developed quite acceptable table manners and would stay on her own plate as
long as there was something yummy on it. She particularly loved Sara’s recipe
for Linguine with Clam Sauce. All of the dinner guests loved to watch Paco eat
as she held each strand delicately in her foot and licked the sauce off.
Back then, there weren’t many good products for birds. When I took Paco
visiting in the winter, I wanted to keep her warm. I took a bath towel and put
it in the dryer and then since there weren’t any good carriers for birds, I
placed the towel and Paco inside of a bowling ball bag. She became used to being in the bowling ball bag and knew that it meant that she was going to go visiting and I had no trouble getting her into her "carrier." One evening, as I was
getting in the car, she was carrying on and squawking in the bag. I held the
bag up to my face and said in my disciplinarian voice, "If you don’t behave yourself, you won’t get to go to
dinner!” It was about that time that my new neighbors greeted me, and asked me
if I was going bowling. Imagine their concerns about my sanity and “the neighborhood”
when they saw me reprimanding my ‘bowling ball’.
Do You Wanna Do Your Trick?
By Sally Blanchard
About twenty years ago when I lived in the mid-west, I taught my beloved yellow-collared
macaw, Bojo, to do a somersault in my hand. She was always delighted to perform
this trick on command. Rascal, my male double-yellow head, can be quite a
talker and one never knew what he would come up with. One afternoon, I was
visited by a man who did a performing parrot show throughout the mid-west. I explained that Bojo was a “one-trick pony” who
did one trick very well on command. I was a bit embarrassed to show her off to
a man who had parrots who did all sorts of elaborate tricks during their
performances. but he asked me to, so I set Bojo up to do her trick.
I picked her up with my hand around her back, Rascal started talking. He said,
“Do you wanna do your trick? OK are ya ready... when I say three ... One, Two
Three.” The moment Rascal said “Three”, I raised my thumb, Bojo grabbed it and
over she went. When I had her do her somersault without Rascal’s help, the
actual cue was for me to lift my thumb for Bojo to grab on to so she could turn
in my hand. After she made the turn perfectly, Rascal exclaimed, “VERRRRY
GOOD!” The trick trainer was astonished.
He had never seen two parrots,
especially two different species, work so well in unison with one giving the
verbal commands for the others. He even offered me
a good amount of
money for both birds. Of course, it was an offer I could easily refuse. There
was absolutely no way I would sell my delightful companion parrots for any amount of money.
But I also didn’t want to tell him that the smoothly coordinated performance he
had just witnessed had been a total coincidence and had never happened before!
(... and never happened again!)
When is a Parrot a Flower?
Has anyone else noticed how fascinated
hummingbirds are by their parrots? The hummingbirds “love” my bird’s red head.
I do provide feeders for the hummers, so they are not starving. Last week when
Goober and I were outside, I was reading the newspaper while Goober sat next to
me. I was reading a story in the paper and I heard a hummer but didn’t pay
attention to it, ‘cause like I said, I have feeders out there and know that
there are hummers out there. I heard this hummer for quite some time and
finally I looked up at Goober because he was making a tiny little clicking type
noise. (sort of like look, look, look, look) The look on Goober’s face was
hilarious. Picture a cross-eyed parrot. The hummer was so close to me I saw his
tongue going in and out and in and out, running through Goober’s head feathers.
Goober sat there very still. I couldn’t believe what I had seen. After the
hummer left, Goober fanned his tail, pinned his eyes, and half spread his
wings. I don’t know if he was laughing or telling the hummer to never come
back. Early this evening, Goober was sitting in his little tree outside and I
was a few feet away from him watering the grass. I looked up at Goober (I’m
always watching him outside) and there was the hummer doing the same thing.
Only Goober was making no noise whatsoever! He was just letting this hummer do
what he wanted. I wonder how long this has been going on.
LET THERE NOT BE LIGHT
Red-lored Amazon is a bit of an anarchist at heart. He loves to create an
incident and then step back and enjoy the ensuing commotion. As far as he’s
concerned, the one sure fire way to relieve boredom is to turn off the lights.
He gets results every time.
Max’s cage is near the light switch. One evening he was bored. Climbing
aimlessly up and down the outside of his cage, he happened to notice the light
switch. Of course, he had to check it out and lo and behold, if he moved
it just right, the room went dark and, even better, the humans freaked out.
After the lights were turned back on and everyone settled back down, he decided
to do his little game again. The second time was just as good or better, since
this time he even received a scolding. This became Max’s game of choice.
He’s added a few
variations. For example, after turning off the lights, he climbs at great speed
to the top of his cage to run to the very back where he can’t be reached. It we
do not react at all, he will go hack and turn the lights on and off all
We have moved his cage over a bit so he cannot reach the switch no matter how
hard he tries. It’s amazing to see him hanging horizontally from the side of
the cage from the side of the cage. Eventually the cage ends up in reaching
distance again and there go the lights. After all, this is the one game that
virtually guarantees a reaction and failing that, turning the world dark and
then light again is great fun all by itself.
PRETTY GOOD IS
By Connie Carlson
Juanita, our double yellow head is almost two years old. Shortly after she came
to live with us, she started singing and talking. We tried to teach her to
sing, “Oh what a beautiful morning” by
singing it over and over. Although she learned other songs, she seemed to have trouble with the word “beautiful” and would only get as far
as, “Oh what a …” One of her favorite expressions was “pretty girl” which was evidently easy for her to say. My husband,
Craig was teasing with Juanita one day and sang, “Oh what a Pretty Good
morning” to her. Almost immediately, she sand out the song, “Oh what a pretty
good morning!” and it has been her favorite since. If it’s a pretty good
morning for Juanita, then it’s a pretty good morning for the rest of us!
By Nancy Fasino
morning, our Blue-front Amazon, Patches, woke me up with his screaming. When
he saw me heading towards the living room, he stopped in mid-scream and the
following conversation ensued:
Patches: “Hello there.”
Me: “Hi Patches.”
Patches: “What doin’ there?”
Me: “I come out to shut you up.”
Patches: “Ooohhhh” (which he said in a deep, scratchy, slightly guilt-tinged
By Sally Blanchard
New to the area and anxious to make new
friends, I was attending a party with a friend. As my friend and I were talking to some new
people, I suddenly said to her “Oh no - I think I forgot to lock my parrots in
their cages.” I own two mischievous “Houdini” Amazons and was concerned what
they might do to my new furniture. One woman looked at me very strangely and
exclaimed, “YOU LOCK THEM UP!” I replied, “Of course - they can get into
horrible trouble if I don’t.” She then questioned me with great irritation,
“Why do you lock them up?” I was thinking, who is this woman and why is she so
shocked that I keep my parrots in cages? In a slightly defensive manner, I said
“I don’t want them hurting themselves or ruining my new furniture.” With that
reply, she gave me a strange look and walked away. Later that evening, I saw my
friend and this woman laughing hysterically. It was then that I discovered that
the woman had misunderstood me to say that I locked my “parents” up when I left
|SHARING THE FOOD
by Sally Blanchard
ago, I was having dinner with three friends in a Mexican restaurant -- the kind
that gave you way too much food to eat in one sitting. After we were through
eating, I asked the waitress for a container for the dabs of rice, beans and
other leftovers from everyone’s plate. She insisted on taking the plates and
putting the leftovers in the containers in the kitchen I told her very clearly
just to put everything together in one box and added that in was for my
parrots who loved Mexican food. She gave me the strangest look and said, “No,
it is no problem to put it in individual containers. I repeated my
request adding that it really didn’t matter if everybody’s food
was at slopped together, that my parrots didn’t care arid loved it that way.
She shook her head, gave me a strange look and headed for the kitchen. After a
few minutes, she returned with our bill and four neatly wrapped separate
containers. I shrugged my shoulders and proceeded to dump everything into one
of them. One of my friends engaged the waitress in conversation, explaining
that I was pretty “weird” about my birds. The waitress did a double take and
threw her hands up in the air exclaiming, “Oh, you said parrots – I thought you
were taking the food home to your parents I couldn’t understand how you could
be such a poor daughter.
GET UP YOU LAZY BONES!
Early one summer morning, loud talking and laughing woke me up. As I ‘focused”
my ears, I realized it was
coming from the porch where Paco and Rascal, my double yellow head Amazons
live. This was not the first morning they had awakened me at 5am. Both are
domestically-raised parrots who learned to speak human before they learned
parrot. “HA HA HA! OH, you’re so pretty, oh Rackle-burger, I love you. What are
ya doin? Ha Ha Ha”, Paco was chattering over and over. It worried me that
Rascal wasn’t responding so I jumped up to check on them. Rascal was still
sound asleep despite Paco’s boisterous attempt to wake him with her “sweet nothings”.
GET IT RIGHT,
By Bob Payer
I have two birds, Gomo and
Creeko. It didn’t start out that way. I mean having two birds and those names.
Both names happened contrary to my plans. Gomo is a Congo Grey who is now over
a year old. Creeko is a Mexican Redhead runt, age 2 (or 3 or 4 or ? years).
Gomo is currently a sort of happy-go-lucky fellow (or maiden), while Creeko is
a scheming. shrewd little green psychologist. Creeko is about 2/3 the size of other Mexican
Redheads that I have seen (280 grams). (Gomo is speechless but full of noises.
Creeko can say all kinds of one or two word phrases. but only the ones he wants
I am only going to tell a brief story, it’s about getting Creeko and Creeko’s
name. Creeko was in the bird store in a cage on the floor with two cages
stacked above him like a 3-story condo I asked about him because of the careful
way he moved and performed. The store owner told me he was on consignment
because the lady who owned him was working too much and decided to give him up
because she could not spend the time with him that he deserved. Sure. In
retrospect, I know now that Creeko caught me. I told myself that it probably was a mistake to take him.
He looked very ratty and he was unmanageable to the owner He ate only seeds and
he bit everyone who reached for him. I had already read about the problems of
taking on an unwanted bird. Still, when I watched him interact with me, my
heart spoke louder than my head.
I took Creeko
home and set him up next to Gomo. I named him Mr. Careful. He bit me - hard.
Within a very short time, maybe two or three weeks, he began to change into the
Shakespearian actor that he now is. He stopped biting, began eating everything
except seeds (but not those lousy pellets).
Although I asked the bird store to call the lady who “gave up” her bird, I
never was able to find out his name, only the news that she now has a Cockatoo,
poor Cockatoo. As I tried teaching him to say his name “Careful,” he would
reply “Creeeeko.” Just need to work on his “L’s,” I thought.
Over the next two or three months whenever 1 said “Careful” or “Mr. Careful.”
he strutted and replied “Creeeeeko.” So I gave up and said “Okay, from now on your name is
Creeko.” That went along for a month or two and one day I forgot and called him
Careful. After a second he said emphatically “Creek-a-reek-o,” then softly
“boy.” As I stared at him with my jaw loose, I thought to myself. “Finally, he
has taught me.” All the time while I thought he was having trouble with his
pronunciation, he was thinking “How long will it take to teach this dumb human my name?”
|BIG BROTHER COMES TO THE RESCUE
by Toni West
I share my life
with five wonderful parrots: a hen African Grey (Abby), a male Eclectus
(Elliott), a hen White- front Amazon (Gracie) and 2 male Rose Breasted
Cockatoos (Josh and Benji). Abby and Elliott have adored each other from the
first moment they set eyes on each other. While Abby is two months older than
Elliott, Elliott has always acted as the “big brother.” He watches out for all
the rest of the flock and often lets me know if something isn’t quite right.
When Gracie first came to live with us, she would intently watch Abby and
Elliott preen and play together. She has the exact same hatch date as Elliott,
but she joined us after Abby and Elliott had been together for over a year and
found gaining acceptance was going to be a chore. Within a couple of weeks,
little Gracie had that big green bird, Elliott wrapped around her toe and I
would regularly find the two of them together. Abby still got her share of
Elliott’s attention, but like a typical African Grey she often would rather sit
up high and just watch what was going on. So Elliott and Gracie became fast
friends and started playing together quite a bit. They often share toys and
food, passing an item back and forth between their beaks just as gently as can
be. This is sometimes quite comical to watch, for Elliott is the largest bird
in the house and Gracie is the smallest.
All my birds are fully flighted so when they are out I watch their interactions
quite carefully. I am often counting birds and figuring out who is missing and
asking where someone is. Usually it is Abby, for she can seem to hide quite
well in plain view. One of the cockatoos’ favorite sayings has become “Where’s
Abby?” One of the reasons I am often looking for Abby is because she likes to
terrorize Gracie. If she is in the mood for chasing, she will follow Gracie
from cage top, to cage top, to play stand, causing Gracie to quickly flutter
off to the next available place to land.
The other day I was cleaning cages and all the birds were out. They each have
special places they like to play, so I can usually glance around the room and
find each bird’s location pretty quickly. I noticed that Abby was chasing
Gracie from one cage to another and I saw Gracie fly off into the living room.
I thought she went to the play stand just inside the living room, but when I
went over to take a peek, she wasn’t there. So I started looking all over
calling “Where’s Gracie?” I couldn’t see her at all in the bird room or the
living room. Every once in a while she takes off down the hallway and I have to
rescue her from the shelf in my laundry room, so I was about to go look for her
there. As I walked out of the bird room, I saw Elliott fly toward the ledge he
plays on between the kitchen and dining room. Then he suddenly let out one of
those nice sweet Eclectus warning noises from somewhere in the dining room. So
I walked into the dining room and looked around. Over by the window I have a
6-foot high carpeted cat tree. Usually I can find one of the cats stretched out
sleeping on the shelf near the top. I didn’t see a cat when I looked up but I
was startled to see Elliott standing on the very top of the cat tree; somewhere
he has never landed before. He was perched there looking straight at my 7-foot
ficus tree in the corner of the room. The sun was shining in the window, making
the leaves on the tree an assortment of colors. I started to look away but I
saw Gracie, perched on one of the top little branches in the tree. She blended
in quite well with the other shades of green and was difficult to see. But
Elliott was staring right at her, pointing just like a hunting dog.
Amazed and chuckling over what I saw, I grabbed a cage ladder that I often use
to get the birds down from wherever they might be to try and help Gracie. I
didn’t know how well it would work, for I had never been able to get her to
step up on it before. I reached up with the ladder and told Gracie to step up.
She started to pick up her foot and then she leaned back away from the ladder.
Elliott immediately jumped from the top of the cat tree to the ladder that was
stretched out above my head and looked right at Gracie. She saw him up there,
waiting for her and she stepped right up on the ladder. As I brought them both
down I just couldn’t stop laughing. I gave them both hugs and kisses and
praised Elliott for showing me where to find Gracie. Elliott is always right in
the middle of anything going on and he often flies to Abby or Gracie’s side if
one of them is squawking about something. But this time, he not only showed me
where she was, but he encouraged her to climb up on the ladder so I could help
her down. He is such a good “big brother.”