23 January 2011

The Parrot

Once upon a time a benevolent uncle gave me a gift. A parrot. A green parrot, thought to be a double yellow headed Amazon. The reason for this generous gift came about because of the parrot's hatred for Uncle Bill. Well, wouldn't you go off someone who let a broom fall on you? Parrots don't like being knocked about.

So I acquired this parrot and loved it at first sight. He was called Sally but please don't ask why a bloke parrot was given a female name. He came complete with huge cage attached to a trolley so he could be wheeled about. It had a cover that fitted most of the cage and lots of bells and things to play with.

This he and she business confuses even me so please forgive me if in the process of telling this tale I slip into the wrong gender.

Sally adapted quickly and was an amazing mimic. She had my voice off to a fine art in no time at all. The cat, named Lee, was demented when she (yes, she WAS a she) answered my call only to find she'd been summoned by the parrot. 'Leee-eeee,' called Sally, exactly as I did. And Oh my, did I get fed-up when she did her whistling kettle impersonation whenever she heard me fill the kettle.

Telephones were her favourite things to imitate. except when the real thing rang ... that was the summons for her to start chattering. While I tried to hear what the caller said Sally would rush up and down her perch chattering - in my voice - while I grew steadily demented. Eventually I would yell 'HANG ON WHILE I KILL THE PARROT'. Putting down phone, rushing to cage, slinging on cover, twirling trolley so that she faced the wall.

Ha, did I forget she could move about?

Yes, every time.

On my way back to the phone she would bend low, put beak through cage, lift up cover and say 'What's the matter' in that wheedling sort of voice she picked up from God only knows where.

Of course, she was allowed out of the cage. In fact, mostly out than in. She liked to be fed walnuts and grapes while she was outside, although I soon learned to ban walnuts when I found numerous bits of nut trodden into the carpet. Grapes were okay. She would sit on my shoulder to eat those ... on a pad, in case of juice marks.

Her favourite game was Throw the Matchbox. She would run up and down the top of the fire surround waiting for me to place an empty box on the tiles. Hysterically waiting! Squawking at the top of her/my voice, or so it seemed! Did I squawk, I used to wonder. Anyway, she would squeal as she dived for the box and hoot with joy as she threw it on the floor so I could have the dubious pleasure of picking it up. It was all very entertaining.

However! Whenever young son was home from school Sally went into wary mode. Jon was in wary mode as well. I thought he was transmitting his fear to the bird ... having completely forgotten the sustained injury that prompted uncle to give her away. Jon persevered, using the matchbox game to pacify the parrot. But not for long.

One evening, while I was washing crocks in the kitchen, I heard a scream. Oh My God. Rushed into lounge to find Jon with blood running down his face. Oh My God, not his eyes

Parrot was on the shelf. I swiped at her, knocked her to the floor. Grabbed Jon, dragged him out and shut parrot in the room on its own. Off to Emergencies which luckily was just up the road. Later learned that the bird had been on top of the door and had swooped on Jon as he was about to go through. You could see the claw marks on his cheeks.

The hospital nurses said they'd never had anyone in with a parrot bite before which made Jon feel a bit of a hero. He was okay, the beak had missed his eyes, thank the Lord.

Of course the parrot had to go. And it went rather quickly to a neighbour who had no man in the house. Well, you can't be too careful with parrots with long memories.

It was a long time before I had a yen for another bird. This time I bought a cockatiel, a white one called Chalky. She (haha) couldn't talk so I took the challenge and started to teach her. Using a tape recording of my voice (!) I played it through the night when the room was dark. By morning she would be repeating the phrase she'd heard. Once a week I would give her a different recording until eventually she could recite Pop Goes the Weasel without a hitch.

I was thrilled with her progress. So was my guy. He loved to clean the cage while she sat on his shoulder. Until one day he put her back in and let the cage door slam on her foot. Thereafter, every time HE entered the room SHE would attack him.

The local zoo was pleased to add Chalky to their collection. This is proof, I think, that birds have exceptionally long memories.


  1. snort...too funny...think i might stay away fromt eh birds if i were he..

  2. I think I might attack people who had a habit of shutting me in a cage when they felt like it! LOL

  3. What a tale :-D
    There is a house in our town, which has a giant parrot on the garage roof. It was left over from th ecarnival and certainly is a conversation piece!

  4. Applause...applause...applause!!!

    OMG Valerie...this post was HYSTERICALLY brilliant! You REALLY know how to tell a story!

    "Eventually I would yell 'HANG ON WHILE I KILL THE PARROT'."

    Bwhahaahahahhahha! Oh, how funny!

    A dear friend of mine in Florida had an African Grey and his name was Hamlet. He could TALK up a storm and repeat things like nobody's business. He was amazing at mimicking theme songs to TV shows. My mother also had several birds (parrots and cockatiel's) all of which could talk like crazy.

    "the bird had been on top of the door and had swooped on Jon as he was about to go through."

    Yes, birds can be very aggressive. You should see how the little sparrows SWOOP down and try to attack my head while walking through the park in the summer!

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post, dear lady!

    Have a FAB weekend!

  5. Somehow I don't think you're destined to keep a bird as a pet Valerie. ;)

  6. Brian, my lad doesn't encourage birds in his garden. Wonder why!

    Hi Jinksy, me too!

    Hi Kath, that parrot sounds like an impressive sight.

    Ron, haha I wonder if life would be different with an African Grey. Bet your Mom was amused on a daily basis. A word of advice for the summer, change your shampoo... grins.

    Akelamalu, I would still have another bird but only if I lived alone.

  7. Sheesh! I'll be having nightmares. Well done, Val.

  8. Mr V, mares? I'm sure you mean ight'birds' ... grins

  9. Either, Val. If I get visited in the night by anything with talons and a beak, I'm gonna wake up in a hot sweat.

  10. Valerie, I have to read this story to my kids! They will enjoy it very much. I could just imagine how the parrot could drive you crazy when you're on the phone. Hang on. I have to kill the parrot - funny!!

  11. Many chuckles out loud on this one Val. Well done indeed, and I am glad the birds were able to find other homes before they introduced the grim reaper a little earlier than anticipated. I have not had a pet bird since I was about 12 and your story just reinforces why I don't need to rekindle a childhood memory. Take care.


If you're new to A Mixed Bag you might find something to interest you, a bit of mirth, a story or two, or some pictures. I'm so pleased you popped in, do leave a comment if you have time.