I have a special interest in smart bird stories like the one recently where a small Quaker parrot warned a babysitter that her two-year-old charge was choking. The bird kept screaming and calling “Mama baby” until the babysitter came back into the room to find the child already blue from lack of oxygen. The babysitter used the Heimlich maneuver and the child is now fine.

Then there’s the story of the African Grey parrot in Japan. Police found the bird sitting on someone’s roof, and they took him to a veterinary clinic, where he told the staff the full name and complete address of his owners. When the police checked this out, they found that the people at this address had indeed lost their parrot.

We also have a smart bird. Ours is a Yellow Headed Amazon, and this kind of bird is known for its ability to mimic human speech. For some reason this bird has decided to mimic me, and when he talks, he sounds almost exactly like I do. Some day I should take the time to write down a list of the words and phrases that he uses. I do know that the number of words and phrases would be in the hundreds, and as other parrot owners will agree, this bird doesn’t just say words… he knows WHAT he is saying and what the words mean.

He tells us when water comes to a boil in the teakettle, when it starts to rain or snow outside, when the dogs are doing something they shouldn’t do, and when someone drives into the yard. When he sees something that frightens him outside, he calls to one of us by name, followed by “Quick! Quick! Come quick!” He can even be a little manipulative by continually asking, “Don’t you love your little bird?” in a plaintive voice, or saying repeatedly “It looks good… I would like some,” when I’m cooking something and don’t offer him enough tastes. He sings opera and hymns in a beautifully clear voice and even combines lyrics to make up his own songs. He greets us at the beginning of every day with a cheery “Good morning!” and when someone leaves the house, he asks where they are going… often asking if it will be to the store or post office.

During the summer we have many, many severe thunderstorms and the weather radio often sounds the severe weather alarm. Each time he calls one of us by name to tell us about the alarm and is only reassured when he is told that everything is OK, it was just a test.

We got him when he was just a few months old, but we think he suffered some abuse before he came to live with us. He was very quiet for several months, and when he did speak he said “Bad bird… shut up!” and a few other phrases that showed us he wasn’t cherished in his previous home. It is a source of great joy to us that he never says those things any more… now his vocabulary is full of phrases like, “I’m such a good bird,” “You’re so sweet,” and “I love you mama!” He has been a part of our family for over twenty years now, and I can’t even imagine how silent and empty this house would seem without his happy little voice… or how much I would miss hearing him call when he thinks he’s being ignored… “Want to talk bird about it?”

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I am so envious. I have always wanted a bird and especially a parrot but my mother is terrified of birds and she never let us near any. Since I have been married we haven’t had the money to buy a parrot but that is my dream, to somehow own an African Gray. Your bird sounds amazing.


I cried when I read this because it brought back such bittersweet memories of my cherished Amazon. His name was Pete and he was the smartest bird. People used to come in and he would talk to them and they would go away having a completely changed impression of birds and their intelligence. I agree completely, these talking birds do know what they’re saying and they do understand. Their range of emotions is very humanlike. Great post and wonderful blog. I mean this nicely but I spend way too much time here!


I have never been a fan of birds being caged, afterall, they are meant to fly. However, I ended up with a dove that had been abandoned. She too had not been treated properly but in time, she became an absolutely wonderful pet. I loved everything about her. She was funny, loving, playful; just a pure joy. She is no longer with us but I miss her and am so glad I had the opportunity to discover how incredible birds really are.


My Daddy had a bird that he whistled back and forth with. They would make up songs to whistle to each other. The big one outside would answer you if you knocked and said hello. You’d hear from the back, “Hello” and swear someone was home. I know that they both miss him greatly.

What a wonderful bird it sounds like you have.


I know the feeling about an abused bird. I have one. First he lost his mate then 2 owners. I got him he was thin and scared to do anything. Well fat bird hasnt stopped eating and got him sholder trained again. God bless birdies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


This is a wonderful story and what a lucky little parrot you have that he found such a loving home with you. He sounds like a real sweetheart. Thanks for sharing about him.


Have you heard about Alex the parrot? I just heard a story on NPR discussing him and the book that his handler/researcher has written. He proved scientifically what a lot of us know about our animals already — they really are smart.


Birds are among the creatures I enjoy watching and having around. I thoroughly enjoyed your story about your pet parrot. I am still smiling while writing this comment. Thanks for sharing this with others. I have also enjoyed your other blogs. They are very informative and encouraging. Once again, thanks for sharing.


It touched my heart , reading about your bird.


The reason that I felt I had to write was to perhaps amuse you, as a parrot parent, with our particular version of this telephone wire-crack dilemma: our daughter’s cockatoo Calypso has a fondness for peeling e-v-e-r-s-o-c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y the plastic/rubber coating on electrical/phone wires. We don’t notice he did it (again) until a good rain (yes, he goes outside freely, and our 2 dogs guard against neighborhood cats.) Then the phone line goes dead. We have gotten pretty good at covering the split wrapping with electrical tape (you have to let it dry out first, though.) But it is hard to find the exact spot sometimes. When Calypso was really young, he figured out that if he jiggled the line right where he’d chewed it, the phone would ring in the house. One day I ran from the garden to get the phone several times over 10 minutes or so, always frustrated to have no one be on the other end. After the 4th time, I looked up and saw Calypso sitting on a branch next to the wire with one claw clasping it, ready to give another jiggle. He was enjoying watching “Mom” dash into the house and then swear at the $%#; who kept calling and hanging up! We have occasionally given up, called the phone company whose repairmen always tell us that we have “chipmunks.” We don’t dare tell them about the bird, and keep him hidden in the house – hopefully quiet (not always so easy.) The last couple of years, he seems to have changed his chewing preferences – lucky for everyone!

Just found your blog today and am really enjoying it. Happy Spring!

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Elena, it’s amazing how smart these birds are, isn’t it? We know all about trying to keep them quiet… for some reason our Amazon likes to call out “Help, help, I’m all alone in here” when he hears a stranger’s voice outside. One day we actually had to explain to a concerned meter reader that although the voice calling for help so urgently sounded like a woman (just like me, actually), it was really only our bird in a mischievous mood. The meter reader seemed very skeptical!!!

Thanks for sharing your story. Your Calypso sounds like a treasure. Happy Spring to you too!